Sunday, May 06, 2018

Tonight's Movie: A Woman's Devotion (1956) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

A WOMAN'S DEVOTION is another great-looking Republic Pictures film released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

The disc is a "brand-new HD master from a 4K scan of the original 35mm negative and positive separations from the Paramount Pictures Archives." For some reason I was expecting this suspense film to be in black and white, so what a great surprise when it was revealed to be another beautiful Trucolor restoration, shot extensively on Mexican locations.

The film concerns newlyweds Trevor and Stella Stevenson (Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule), who are on an extended stay in Acapulco, where Trevor paints.

Unbeknownst to Stella, Trevor had been hospitalized for over a year for shellshock before they met and married. He's prone to blacking out or acting erratically when he hears loud noises. This only becomes especially concerning when a young woman turns up dead and Trevor can't account for his whereabouts, and it becomes an even bigger worry when a second girl is strangled.

Police Captain Henrique Monteros (Paul Henreid, who also directed) tries to solve the mystery before it's too late.

Although the storyline is somewhat unusual, the presentation is simultaneously run of the mill and a touch preposterous. Meeker and Rule, costars of PICNIC on Broadway in 1953, are initially touching as young lovebirds, but the story becomes rather repetitive as the 88 minutes unspool and our heroine endlessly worries, wonders, and tries to take care of her husband. Though the devotion referenced in the film's title is admirable, it doesn't always lead her to make sensible choices.

Things finally break loose in a conclusion which is simultaneously moving and shocking; that said, I wasn't really satisfied with how things turned out.

I had a little trouble thinking of Meeker as a romantic lead because I kept thinking of him in KISS ME DEADLY (1955), which I didn't care for. Rule is fresh and engaging, with her long reddish ponytail, but as mentioned, eventually one has to question her character's decisions.

The film's most nuanced performance comes from Henreid as the investigator who is simultaneously dogged and sympathetic. (He also manages to make the viewer forget he's not actually Mexican.) I've seen references that Henreid felt the studio damaged the film in the editing room but haven't seen more details on that.

The film's strongest suit is the colorful location filming of all exteriors; the cinematographer was Jorge Stahl Jr. Those who share my enjoyment of exploring lesser-known crime films may find it worth taking a look at the film thanks to the beautiful picture, but otherwise it's only a so-so movie.

The lone extra is a gallery of trailers for four suspense films available from Kino Lorber.

This film is also available from Kino Lorber on DVD.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Vienna said...

I love hearing about a film I’ve never heard of before, so thanks for this review.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, I enjoyed your review of A WOMAN'S DEVOTION. I've never seen or read anything about this late Republic Pictures movie, until now. Sounds like Acapulco is the star of the movie. I always liked Dr. Janice Rule(she was a psychoanalyst, later on), she was a good actress and better than most acting material that she was given. She was splendid in "Nightmare as a Child" a Rod Serling written episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, which first aired on April 29, 1960.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Vienna and Walter! Like you I enjoy exploring unknown movies, even if they don't always turn out to be as good as hoped. Acapulco was definitely the star of the movie, Walter! (And since I was there once I especially enjoyed a brief moment showing a cliff diver.)

I think I've only seen Janice Rule in a couple of things to date.

Best wishes,

7:53 PM  

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