Time: 108 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
With a less talented cast this marital melodrama/murder mystery wouldn't be half as compelling as it is. Cast in his first major Hollywood role, James Mason plays a philandering husband caught between his reverential love for his wife and uncontrollable lust for his ex-mistress. His marriage survived the initial affair, but is put in jeopardy once again when Isabel Larson (Gardner) returns to town. Brandon tries to stay away, to stay true to the promise he made to Jessie (Stanwyck); however, Isabel's bad girl allure and relentless stalking wear down his resolve. Jessie wants to believe that Isabel won't come between them again, that Brandon's changed. Unfortunately, the evidence against him is pretty damaging. Her newly-minted friendship with Mark Dwyer (Heflin), a journalist and a gentlemen, opens her eyes to how shoddily she's been treated and that she allowed it because she thought the world would stop if they weren't together.
Everything comes to a head when Brandon finds Isabel dead, placing him in trouble with the police and destroying the final vestiges of trust between he and Jessie. His guilt or innocence in Isabel's murder means nothing to Jessie. That he was in Isabel's apartment when he was supposed to be going away with her proves to be the final straw. The final act has many questions to answer: Will Jessie forsake Brandon and find love with Mark? Or will she forgive Brandon now that Isabel's out of their lives forever? If Brandon isn't Isabel's killer, who is? All are answered, though none of the outcomes are very surprising. What begins as an emotional rollercoaster of desire, betrayal and forgiveness, ends on a somewhat formulaic note with everything tied into a neat little package. Jessie regains her dignity and control of her life, Brandon loses the one thing he wanted most and Isabel got what was coming to her. The murder is meant to add intrigue and tension, but only muddles the affair since it really has nothing to do with either Brandon or Jessie. Once Isabel's out of the picture all the emotional tension leaves as well.