Rage in Heaven
|Rage in Heaven|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||W.S. Van Dyke
Robert B. Sinclair
|Produced by||Gottfried Reinhardt|
|Screenplay by||Christopher Isherwood
|Based on||the novel
by James Hilton
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper
|Cinematography||Oliver T. Marsh
George J. Folsey
|Edited by||Harold F. Kress|
Rage in Heaven is a 1941 American psychological thriller film noir about the destructive power of jealousy. It was directed by W.S. Van Dyke and based on the novel by James Hilton. It features Robert Montgomery, Ingrid Bergman, and George Sanders.
Two doctors discuss the case of a man who identifies himself as Ward Andrews. This man escapes from a mental institution. His doctors call the police, because outwardly the man may seem sane, but underneath, he suffers from paranoia and is capable of murder.
Phillip Monrell (Robert Montgomery) and his former college roommate Ward Andrews (George Sanders) arrive at the Monrell home, where they meet Stella Bergen (Ingrid Bergman), the secretary of Phillip's mother (Lucile Watson). They are both strongly attracted to her. She prefers the more responsible, hardworking Ward, but ends up marrying the idle Phillip instead.
Phillip is put in charge of the family steel mill, but is not suited to the job. He begins to exhibit signs of mental illness, in particular, abnormal jealousy of any competition for his wife's affections. Despite this, he hires Ward to be the chief engineer at the mill. Eventually, Phillip's paranoid suspicion that Ward and Stella love each other drives him to try to kill his rival at work. Ward confronts him and quits.
Stella, convinced that her husband is insane, leaves him and meets Ward. Phillip phones them and promises to grant her a divorce if Ward will talk with him in person. Despite Stella's misgivings, Ward agrees to see him. However, Phillip provokes a loud argument and Ward leaves.
Afterwards, the madman kills himself, carefully framing Ward for the crime. Ward is arrested, convicted of murder and sentenced to be executed. A frantic Stella is unable to convince anyone of his innocence. The day before the execution, she is visited by Dr. Rameau (Oscar Homolka), a psychiatrist who had been treating Phillip. He is convinced that Phillip committed suicide and that he would have left some message bragging about it. They go to the Monrell mansion and start searching. Mrs. Monrell reveals that her son kept diaries; then, Clark (Aubrey Mather), the butler, recalls that he mailed a package to Paris. They take a flight to France and find the book, which exonerates Ward.
Film critic Dennis Schwartz was disappointed with the film and wrote about the problems on the set, "Disappointing melodrama, shot like a film noir in a moody black and white photography. Efficient autocratic filmmaker W.S. Van Dyke (Rosalie/Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever/Another Thin Man), known as 'One-take Woody,' was the second director, after Robert Sinclair quit when he got ill and couldn't get star Robert Montgomery to cooperate and do some acting. MGM forced Montgomery to make this pic under threat of suspending him and cutting his studio salary. A third director, Richard Thorpe, did the retakes when Van Dyke wasn't available. Montgomery wanted time off the seven-year contract for a vacation. To get even with the studio Montgomery decided to just read his lines in a deadpan manner and not act. This ruse didn't help a pic that needed all the help it could get, as the plot was far-fetched and the melodramatics were stilted."
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