Sunday, September 20, 2009
Day 225: Accused (1949) - Rank 3.5/5
Dames and their emotions - bah. This unique film noir takes an introspective approach to one woman's guilt in order to advance the plot, and for the better part, it works quite well. Loretta Young goes from mild-mannered to tortured in no time as her guilt eats her up from the inside out. The conscience of Dr. Wilma Tuttle (Young) is put to the test after she kills one of her undergraduate students. The acts was out of pure self-defense (the callous youth tried to rape her on an "innocent" evening out), but Dr. Tuttle worries that it won't be interpreted as such and mocks up the incident to resemble a suicide. The police are satisfied, as is the coroner, but the victim's caretaker, prominent lawyer Warren Ford (Robert Cummings), is not and he soon has the police on the trail, headed by the sharp Lt. Dougan (Wendell Corey).
What makes this an entirely unique and riveting Film noir is the avocation of Dr. Tuttle - she's a professor of psychology. The viewer is privy to her inner monologues as she converses with police, lawyers and fellow psychologists/professors alike (the latter role filled entertainingly by Sam Jaffe - Doc Erwin of "Asphalt Jungle" fame). Dr. Tuttle is overly familiar with all the behavioral and emotional tells of a liar/criminal and methodically eliminates them from her persona. But as Ford and Lt. Dougan grow ever closer to the truth, her mental fortitude begins to break down as readily as her alibis. To a degree, her internal collapse and panicked behavior near the film's final act seem uncharacteristic of her prior mentality, but on the whole, it's still a clever film.