The Reckless Moment
|The Reckless Moment|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Max Ophüls|
|Produced by||Walter Wanger|
|Screenplay by||Mel Dinelli
Robert E. Kent
|Based on||Ladies Home Journal story "The Blank Wall"
by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
|Music by||Hans J. Salter|
|Editing by||Gene Havlick|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||82 minutes|
The Reckless Moment is a 1949 film noir melodrama directed by Max Ophüls, produced by Walter Wanger, and released by Columbia Pictures with Burnett Guffey as cinematographer. Starring Joan Bennett and James Mason, the film is based on The Blank Wall (1947), a novel written by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. The film The Deep End (2001) is based on the same story.
California housewife Lucia Harper (Joan Bennett) attempts to cover up what she believes (erroneously) to be her daughter's (Geraldine Brooks) accidental murder of an undesirable ex-lover (Shepperd Strudwick).
Martin Donnelly (James Mason), a clean-shaven smooth-talker involved in organized crime, tries to blackmail Lucia by threatening to take Bea and Darby's correspondence to the police. Complications arise when he realizes his true feelings for Lucia and discovers the truth.
Donnelly's associate Nagel (Roy Roberts), initially a mysterious figure, rows with his colleague, who murders him. Donnelly dies in a car crash with the corpse soon afterwards. Normalcy appears to return for Lucia.
- James Mason as Martin Donnelly
- Joan Bennett as Lucia Harper
- Geraldine Brooks as Bea Harper
- Henry O'Neill as Tom Harper
- Shepperd Strudwick as Ted Darby
- David Bair as David Harper
- Roy Roberts as Nagel
- William Schallert as a police lieutenant (uncredited)
- Kathryn Card as a loan processor (uncredited)
The film made a loss of $565,775.
When the film was first released in 1949, the film critic for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther, review praised the actors but noted, "But it isn't all right with this picture. Although it is rather well staged, with credible location settings in Balboa and Los Angeles, it is a feeble and listless drama with a shamelessly callous attitude. The heroine gets away with folly, but we don't think this picture will."
More recently film critic Dennis Schwartz praised the film, writing, "Max Ophüls (Caught/Lola Montès/The Earrings of Madame de...) is a director not usually associated with noir film, in fact his films tend to be the antithesis of such films. But, nonetheless, he has come up with a first-class melodramatic thriller, very much in the noir spirit, by complementing Guffey's black-and-white photographs of shadowy figures and long craning shots with a dark story about an everyday reality ... A very engaging thriller, every bit as good as the more respectable films the classy director has made."
- Matthew Bernstein, Walter Wagner: Hollywood Independent, Minnesota Press, 2000 p445
- Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "'Reckless Moment' New Feature at the Palace -- British and Two French Films Also Arrive", December 30, 1949. Accessed: July 10, 2013.
- Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, February 3, 2000. Accessed: July 10, 2013.
- The Reckless Moment at the Internet Movie Database
- The Reckless Moment at allmovie
- The Reckless Moment at the TCM Movie Database
- The Reckless Moment at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Reckless Moment information site and DVD review at DVD Beaver (includes images)