Caught (1949 film)

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Caught (1949 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Max Ophüls
Produced by Wolfgang Reinhardt
Screenplay by Arthur Laurents
Based on the novel Wild Calendar 
by Libbie Block
Starring James Mason
Barbara Bel Geddes
Robert Ryan
Music by Frederick Hollander
Cinematography Lee Garmes
Edited by Robert Parrish
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • February 17, 1949 (1949-02-17) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $776,000[1]

Caught is a 1949 American film noir directed by Max Ophüls, and starring James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Ryan. Caught was based on a novel by Libbie Block. Child actor Jimmy Hawkins had a small role in the film.[2]


Young model Leonora Eames (Bel Geddes) marries multimillionaire Smith Ohlrig (Ryan). Ohlrig though is deranged and did not marry for love. Eames insists several times that she married for love, but the film suggests that she is deluding herself. When Ohlrig becomes too abusive, she leaves him, penniless, to find a job at a medical clinic in a poor neighborhood and eventually falls for Dr. Larry Quinada (Mason).

During a one-night reconciliation with Ohlrig, she becomes pregnant. Ohlrig seeks to use the child as leverage to force Leonora to return to him—purely to assert his own power, and not out of any love for her. When he has an attack of angina (the film implies this is psychosomatic), Leonora refuses to help him swallow his medication. Thinking she's caused his death (he actually recovers), she calls Quinada for help and prematurely enters labor. Quinada rushes her to the hospital, but the baby is stillborn. With the baby lost, however, Ohlrig no longer has any leverage over Leonora, and she is now free to divorce him and marry Quinada.



In Block's novel, the character of Smith Ohlrig is based on Howard Hughes. She depicts him as a cruel narcissist, a characterization that Ophüls exaggerates in his film. Ophüls and Hughes were on unfriendly terms. In 1946, Ophüls and Preston Sturges had been fired by Hughes during shooting of Vendetta, finally released in 1950 by RKO Radio Pictures. Caught is considered his revenge against Hughes exacted vicariously through Ryan's character. The film is available in Region 2 (UK) and Region 0 (Spanish) DVD editions.


According to MGM records the film earned $511,000 in the US and Canada and $265,000 overseas.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz liked the film as he discussed director Max Ophüls in his review, writing, "The talented German-born filmmaker Max Ophüls (La Ronde/Le Plaisir), who fled the Nazis and arrived in America from France in 1941, had wasted time and energy on dumb projects when hired early on in the 1940s by delusional egotistical millionaire Howard Hughes and had been called ugly names behind his back by the reactionary studio boss of RKO. In this film, the filmmaker gets his revenge by having writer Arthur Laurents base the vile fashion-plate millionaire character of Smith Ohlrig, superbly played with a chill by Robert Ryan, on the contemptible mogul with info based on his talks with his women and from his own personal dealings with him. The brilliantly perceptive soap opera film noir is taken from the novel Wild Calendar by Libbie Block. It catches the differences between the dream and real world, and what might happen if your dreams are realized and they turn out to be a nightmare. In this case, a marriage from hell."[3]


  1. ^ a b The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Caught at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 27, 2007. Accessed: July 12, 2013.

External links[edit]