Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Deception (4 stars)
Deception, an Irving Rapper drama from 1946, reunites Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, who had starred together four years earlier in Now, Voyager (my all-time favorite movie). Though Bette Davis gets top billing and did do her normal wonderful job here, I think Claude Rains really steals the show. He is totally brilliant in his role.
Bette is Christine Radcliffe, a concert pianist, who has become the mistress of her instructor, renowned composer Alexander Hollenius (Rains). Alex enables Christine to live a very extravagant lifestyle...fancy apartment, lavish decor, beautiful clothes, etc.
One evening, Christine attends a concert, where European cellist Karel Novak (Paul Henreid) is performing for the first time in the United States. While in Europe before the war, Christine and Karel had been deeply in love; however, the war separated them, and Christine eventually came to believe Karel had been killed. After the concert is over, Christine goes backstage and is reunited with her long-lost love, who declares to her that only his hope of finding her again kept him alive. Seeing no wedding ring on Christine's finger, Karel is relieved, and he suggests that they finally fulfill their plan of getting married.
However, while Christine is not married, she is attached...to a very jealous Alex Hollenius. But Christine doesn't want Karel to know the truth about her relationship with Alex. She doesn't want him to know she's been kept by Alex. She doesn't want Karel to think she is anything but a struggling music teacher who has remained true to him even though she thought him dead. So, one lie after another pours from her mouth, and, amazingly, Karel really has no idea of the true nature of Christine's relationship with Alex. And Alex has no intention of letting Christine go...even after she and Karel are married.
Do Christine and Karel find happiness? Does Christine stop lying? Does Karel learn the truth? Does Alex let Christine go? These are the questions that play out through the balance of the movie. It's very interesting, and, again, I must say that Claude Rains was magnificent in this role. I didn't think the chemistry between Bette Davis and Paul Henreid was as strong as it was in Now, Voyager. But since Now, Voyager is my all-time favorite movie, I suppose it's hard for me to be totally objective. Anyhow, Deception is a very solid 4-star film for me, and I highly recommend it.