The Reckless Moment (1949) Max Ophüls
Lucia Harper (Joan Bennett, above left) warned her daughter Bea (Geraldine Brooks, below right) about men like Darby. Darby’s too old, Lucia tells Bea, and he hangs out in seedy places with people of questionable character. And to top it all off, Darby is played by Shepperd Strudwich, who always looks like he’s up to no good.
But of course Bea won’t listen to her mom. Darby loves here, right? When Bea discovers the truth about Darby, the two fight and Darby is accidentally killed. Lucia (not Bea) finds the body, “takes care” of things and all is well… until a blackmailer named Donnelly (James Mason) comes along with letters connecting Bea to Darby.
The Reckless Moment contains several clever and effective scenes, nice stylistic touches and good performances, but it never achieves greatness. Joan Bennett (a criminally underrated actor) and James Mason are quite good and even Roy Roberts (playing against type as a mobster) comes across as menacing. Yet the homespun moments from Lucia’s family feel painfully contrived and several plot points often strain credibility. Regardless, The Reckless Moment is worth watching as a fairly suspenseful noir thriller with good performances.