double bill at the 17th Annual Noir City Film Festival began with WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950) and concluded with THE UNFAITHFUL (1947).
THE UNFAITHFUL was an absorbing melding of murder and domestic melodrama, loosely inspired by Somerset Maugham's THE LETTER.
Chris Hunter (Sheridan) seems to have it all, including a happy marriage to Bob (Zachary Scott) and a lovely home. Her life turns on a dime when Bob is out of town and she's attacked when returning home from a party late one evening. During the struggle, Chris kills her attacker.
Chris claims not to know the dead man...but does she? Questions soon arise about Chris's behavior when Bob had been overseas during the war; he'd shipped out just two weeks after marrying her.
Sheridan is excellent as a woman who genuinely loves her husband but who might not have always lived up to her commitment to him.
The movie could have been a tad more streamlined -- the party with Paula's ex-husband barging in added nothing to the plot -- but it's an interesting film presented by an excellent cast. It sympathetically presents its story of troubled human beings who make mistakes but ultimately try to do the right thing.
Scott is always great as an acerbic villain, so I appreciate chances to see him play nice guys all the more, and this is one of them. His Bob is touchingly devoted to his traumatized wife and then terribly confused and hurt.
Eve Arden plays Cousin Paula, who spends much of the movie as a sharp-tongued and rather flighty gossip, then rises to the occasion by seriously advising Bob in her final scene. (I loved her sarcastic line about Bob and Paula's whirlwind marriage before he'd shipped overseas: "You didn't have a marriage, you took out an option on her!") Lew Ayres plays Larry, the family attorney and confidante.
Another favorite character actor, Jerome Cowan, plays the prosecuting attorney in the courtroom sequences. The cast also includes Steven Geray, John Hoyt, Peggy Knudsen, Douglas Kennedy, Frances Morris, and Jane Harker (Alice in some of the JOE MCDOAKES shorts).
As a side note, one of the interesting things about the Sheridan double bill was that sculptures of Ann played a significant role in both movies.
THE UNFAITHFUL was directed by Vincent Sherman, who that same year directed Sheridan in the rather bizarre NORA PRENTISS (1947).
The UNFAITHFUL screenplay was by David Goodiss (who wrote the novels DARK PASSAGE and NIGHTFALL) and James Gunn. The movie was shot in black and white by Ernest Haller and scored by Max Steiner. The film runs 109 minutes.
Sheridan's gowns were by Travilla; some interesting costume test photos may be seen here.
THE UNFAITHFUL is available from the Warner Archive. There's a trailer at the Turner Classic Movies site.