Not since I watched Showgirls a month ago have I seen a film so completely hinged on a single performance that when it fails miserably, so does the film.
The plot of this film by today’s standards is so cliched that I have my doubts about it’s originality when the film was made and when the book was written by Henry James. We have a rich unloving father and his young naive daughter who stands to inherit $30,000. Since this isn’t a film noir the entrance of the young man doesn’t mean that he and the girl are going to kill her father. Instead, she falls in love with him, he seems to fall in love with her, and the father is convinced that he is a fortune hunter. The father pulls the old let’s go away for a certain amount of time to test his loyalty. They do and they find out the truth
For the role of the young naive daughter they needed somebody like Setsuko Hara. What they didn’t need was Olivia de Havilland, a woman who could hold her own with Bette Davis. Every coy look, shy turn of the head, or wide eyed surprise makes de Havilland’s awful performance shine through and destroy this film. Not a second of her performance rings true.
Montgomery Clift is quite good, but he is no reason to watch this movie. Skip this one!