Oft-maligned Hedy Lamarr gives what may be her best performance in this star vehicle tailored for her talents. Fellow European Edgar Ulmer directed this adaptation of Ben Ames Williams' best seller with a strong hand and elicited a fine display of emotion from Lamarr. Lamarr lives in the
lusty, brawling town of Bangor, Maine, during the first half the 19th century. Lumber is what makes Bangor prosper, and Lamarr knows it. She has grown from a naive, frightened young girl into a full-blown woman, and in this new-found maturity she leaves the home of her drunken father, Hoey, and
marries Lockhart, a well-to-do businessman who caters to the lumbermen. With a lecherous eye, Lockhart has watched her grow and is thrilled when she decides to be his wife, even though she's at least 20 years younger than he. Underneath her cheery, amiable nature is a woman of cool, cruel, and
conniving ideas. With Lockhart's money behind her, she is soon the social leader of the town. She donates money to causes, runs charity dinners, and does all the right things. Lockhart's son Hayward is off at a university. Lamarr finds him attractive, so she lures the weak-willed lad back from
school, then entices him until he is addicted to her. Not satisfied with Hayward, Lamarr sets her chapeau for Sanders, the man who runs her husband's lumber interests. The fact that Sanders is set to marry her best friend, Brooke, doesn't matter to the predatory Lamarr. She wants Sanders so much
that she tells Hayward she will marry him (Hayward) if he kills his father, Lockhart. Hayward mistakenly believes the shrew and manages to drown Lockhart. With the old man out of the way, Lamarr is now rich and independent, so she tells Hayward to hit the road; if he insists on sticking around,
she threatens to tell all. Her next move is to get Sanders, and she succeeds in stealing his love away from Brooke. Hayward becomes a drunk, increasingly depressed, and winds up taking his own life. Sanders doesn't take long to recognize that he has married a strange woman. At one point, Lamarr
inadvertently blurts out what she did to Lockhart through Hayward. Upon hearing that, Sanders beats a hasty rereat, lest he catch the next bite from this black widow. Sanders returns to the lumber camp, and Brooke follows him there to offer balm and surcease. Lamarr travels to the camp with her
coach and horses, and when she sees Sanders reunited with Brooke, she is furious and attempts to kill them both by running them down. As she approaches the helpless couple, a carriage wheel hits a large boulder and overturns the carriage; Lamarr is thrown and dies.
Excellent period sets and costumes help to give this a patina of believability. Lamarr was behind the production with Hunt Stromberg and had a hand in every facet of the movie. The fact that Hayward, Sanders, Hoey, and Napier had British accents, while Lamarr sounded Viennese, didn't seem to
bother anyone in this New England town.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Oft-maligned Hedy Lamarr gives what may be her best performance in this star vehicle tailored for her talents. Fellow European Edgar Ulmer directed this adaptation of Ben Ames Williams' best seller with a strong hand and elicited a fine display of emotion… (more)