(director: William Dieterle; screenwriters: Ketti Frings/from the novel Be Still, My Love by June Truesdell; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: Warren Low; music: Victor Young; cast: Loretta Young (Dr. Wilma Tuttle), Robert Cummings (Warren Ford), Wendell Corey (Lt. Ted Dorgan), Sam Jaffe (Dr. Romley), Douglas Dick (Bill Perry), Suzanne Dalbert (Susan Duval), Francis Pierlot (Dr. Vinson), George Spaulding (Dean Rhodes); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal Wallis; Paramount Pictures; 1949)

“Dour and rather dullish but well-acted psychological crime drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William Dieterle (“The Devil’s in Love”/”The Searching Wind”/”Paid in Full”) confidently helms this dour and rather dullish but well-acted psychological crime drama about how “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” as the Prez said. The psychology of fear that builds in the heroine, causes her to act irrational and make wrong decisions. It’s written by Ketti Frings and taken from the novel Be Still, My Love by June Truesdell.

Wilma Tuttle (Loretta Young) is a spinsterish uptight, prim and stuffy psychology prof at Los Angeles’ California College. Bill Perry (Douglas Dick) is a bright but narcissistic, unbalanced and brash student in her class, who makes an unsuccessful clumsy pass at her and she arranges for an office visit to give him the business but instead refers him to the dean. When Wilma misses her bus home after class, Perry gives her a ride and takes her to a deserted stretch of the beach. Clad in a bathing suit and under cover of the night sky, he kisses her even though she objects and when he notices she enjoys it, he tries to go all the way. Out of self-defense Wilma takes a steel bar and conks the caveman over the head a couple of times when he won’t respond to her requests to stop. She accidentally kills him and then cleverly makes it look like a drowning, as she throws his body off the cliff and fills his lungs with salt water through “reverse” artificial respiration. The disheveled lady then gets a ride home from a truck driver. The inquest calls the death an accidental drowning but homicide detective, Lt. Ted Dorgan (Wendell Corey), finds it suspicious that the student’s car had no fingerprints–not even his–and decides to secretly investigate the case. With the aid of the laboratory criminologist Dr. Romley (Sam Jaffe), they put together a case against the suspiciously nervous prof, suffering from nightmares and hallucinations, after first targeting a female student named Susan Duval. Susan informs the cop that on the night of the murder, Bill told her he was meeting with a “psychothymiac.” The diligent cop, though attracted to the pretty Wilma, still goes after her as if she were a killer.

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

Bill’s guardian is his deceased dad’s law partner Warren Ford (Robert Cummings), who quickly becomes romantically drawn to Wilma and he defends her when her case goes to trial. Wilma is acquitted when the jury buys his plea that her only crime was concealing the accident, which she did because she was so fearful. After the trial Ford and Wilma plan to tie the knot, as the detective loses both the case and the gal–which makes him the best suited noir character in the film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”