The Accused

Released January 14, 1949: THE ACCUSED, starring Loretta Young, Robert Cummings, and Wendell Corey.  Directed by William Dieterle (Rope of Sand, Dark City, The Turning Point).  Loretta Young is a bookish university professor who meets with one of her less studious pupils (Douglas Dick) after school to discuss his academic future.  Dick offers to drive her home, but instead, takes her to a secluded cliff theaccusedhigh above the ocean and tries to force himself on her.  In the struggle, Young clubs Dick over the head with a heavy object and kills him.  Distraught, she arranges the scene to make it look like Dick slipped off the cliff, hit his head on the rocks below, and drowned, and then makes her way home on foot.  The next day, Dick’s family guardian (Robert Cummings) shows up on Young’s doorstep, and not realizing Dick has been killed, wants to discuss Dick’s academic status.  Cummings is immediately attracted to Young and pretty soon all he’s interested in is spending as much time as possible with her.  Meanwhile, much to Young’s relief, Dick’s death is ruled accidental, however, police detective Wendell Corey is convinced foul play was involved, and continues to doggedly pursue the case.  This film has some intriguing moments, but unfortunately, lacks any real suspense.  Even though Corey’s net draws tighter and tighter around Young, the audience knows all along she has a justifiable explanation for her actions.  Not only that, she has Cummings in her corner, who happens to be an adept attorney, and even though he himself comes to suspect Young of murder, falls completely head over heels for her and will do anything to protect her.  The film’s most engaging scenes are those in which Corey analyzes physical evidence or questions Young, but the remainder of the film is primarily devoted to the growing feelings of love between Cummings and Young, which is a rather ho-hum affair.  Young’s performance alternates between self-assured professor and helpless damsel in distress on the verge of a fainting spell – an antiquated female stereotype that makes this film feel rather outdated, even by classic film standards.  On the other hand, Wendell Corey puts in a charmingly understated performance as an astute detective with a heart.  The complete opposite of the stereotypical hard-boiled brute, he is instantly likable and a joy to watch.  The Accused is not a bad film, it’s just not a particularly interesting one.  The lack of meaningful suspense, slow pacing, and archaic portrayal of women don’t leave much for viewers to savor.  We give The Accused 2 out of 5 fedoras.

2 Fedoras

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