A WOMAN’S DEVOTION (aka: BATTLE SHOCK) (director: Paul Henreid; screenwriter: Robert Hill/story by Robert Hill; cinematographer: Jorge Stahl Jr.; editor: Richard L. Van Enger; music: Les Baxter; cast: Ralph Meeker (Trevor Stevenson), Janice Rule (Stella Stevenson), Paul Henreid (Capt. Henrique Monteros), Rosenda Monteros (Maria), Fanny Schiller (Señora Reidl), Jose Torvay (Gomez, fisherman), Yerye Beirute (Amigo Herrera), Tony Carbajal (Sergeant), Carlos Riquelme(Chief of Police); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Bash; NTA Home Entertainment; 1956)
“This ridiculous B film tells us not to believe an army hospital when they discharge a battle shock patient and say he’s cured.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Actor turned director Paul Henreid (“For Men Only”/”Girls on the Loose“/”Dead Ringer“)helms this rough-edged murder mystery/psychological drama, that plays out as a minor film noir. It’s based on the story by Robert Hill and is also written by him.
Ex-GI war hero of WW II and noted artist Trevor Stevenson (Ralph Meeker) has been blissfully married the past six months to art gallery worker Stella (Janice Rule), and while traveling by freighter on a prolonged honeymoon he finds the noise in the engine room bothers him when trying to sleep in his cabin. So the adventurous-romantic couple stop-over at Acapulco and take a cottage at a pension owned by the charming Señora Reidl (Fanny Schiller). She’s the aunt of the polite but officious widower police captain, Monteros (Paul Henreid). Trevor was treated in an army mental hospital because of ‘battle shock’ and amnesia during a bombing raid of a hospital, and though released from treatment as cured still suffers from migraines when faced with excessive noise.
On their first night in the pension, a weary Stella goes to bed alone while Trevor meets a cantina waitress and gets her to pose for him in her place. The next morning the waitress is found strangled to death, and the captain suspects Trevor because witnesses saw him sketching her at the cantina. Afraid his wife will think he was sexually involved with the waitress and desert him, Trevor lies to the captain and fails to tell him he sketched her inside her apartment. The captain investigates further by checking with the police in Trevor’s hometown of Rutland, Vermont, and is alerted to his full army record of heroism and suffering from battle shock. When the captain tells Stella her hubby was treated in a mental hospital, she pretends that she knew this. Meanwhile the captain asks the couple not to leave town without notifying him.
Maria (Rosenda Monteros), the maid in the pension, who is the lover of the victim’s sinister prizefighter husband, Amigo Herrera (Yerye Beirute), sees an opportunity to make money by blackmailing the couple with the sketches hubby found of his wife that were sketched in the apartment. Afraid to tell the captain this after lying that the artist was never in her apartment, the couple try to flee by hiring a fishing boat but are turned in. Seeing no alternative but to pay the blackmail, Trevor meets Maria. He gets the sketches and pays her off, but the friendly deal suddenly sours when there’s the screech of a car outside and that triggers Trevor to get aggressive and strangle Maria.
The police chief (Carlos Riquelme) believes that Amigo is responsible for both deaths and that the captain’s personal feelings have made him suspect the Americano. He therefore allows the American couple to leave town (why ruin the tourist business!). But the captain sticks to his guns, and his suspicion is proven right when Trevor goes violently bonkers at the airport when he can’t block out the loud noises from the airplane engines before he departs and relives that painful wartime bombing raid on the hospital.
This ridiculous B film tells us not to believe an army hospital when they discharge a battle shock patient and say he’s cured.
REVIEWED ON 1/27/2011 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ