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The Woman on the Beach (1947)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance | July 1947 (USA)
A Coast Guardsman suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress becomes involved with a beautiful and enigmatic seductress married to a blind painter.

Director:

Jean Renoir

Writers:

Frank Davis (screenplay), Jean Renoir (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Bennett ... Peggy
Robert Ryan ... Scott
Charles Bickford ... Tod
Nan Leslie ... Eve
Walter Sande ... Otto Wernecke
Irene Ryan ... Mrs. Wernecke
Glen Vernon ... Kirk (as Glenn Vernon)
Frank Darien Frank Darien ... Lars
Jay Norris Jay Norris ... Jimmy
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Storyline

Scott, a troubled Coast Guardsman assigned to a fog-bound station on a remote stretch of beach, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress when he survives a mine explosion that sinks his ship. Although he is engaged to a beautiful young woman who loves him, he becomes involved with an enigmatic femme fatale whom he meets near the beached wreckage of a torpedoed ship. She is married to a renowned painter who was blinded in a traumatic, but mysterious incident, details of which are very hazy. Although they only live in a small cottage, the couple have an ambivalent relationship especially in regards to his priceless cache of unsold paintings, a relationship that evolves into a romantic triangle as Scott falls under her seductive spell. Written by dule1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Go ahead and say it...I'm no good!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

July 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Desirable Woman See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last film that Jean Renoir directed in Hollywood, and a very painful experience for him as it was severely compromised. See more »

Goofs

Peggy says her husband's "optic nerve was cut," which is why he's blind. But, although she refers to the optic nerve in the singular, people have two optic nerves, one for each eye. See more »

Quotes

Peggy: I was so proud of you: the great Tod Butler - fiery American painter who approached his canvas' like a prizefighter.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, the waves wash away one set of names before the next set is displayed. See more »

Connections

Featured in Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Go ahead and say it... I'm no good"
28 December 2008 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

By 1947, Jean Renoir, at least indirectly, wasn't new to the American film noir style. Two years earlier, Fritz Lang had released the first of his two Renoir remakes, 'Scarlet Street (1945),' which was based upon 'La Chienne / The Bitch (1931)' {the second film, 'Human Desire (1954),' was inspired by 'La Bête humaine (1938)'}. 'Scarlet Street' notably starred Joan Bennett in a prominent role, which makes it interesting that, despite allegedly disliking that film, Renoir himself used her in his own Hollywood film noir, 'The Woman on the Beach (1947).' It's a visually-magnificent film, with photography from Leo Tover and Harry Wild (the latter of whom shot 'Murder, My Sweet (1944)' and 'Macao (1952)') that perfectly captures the mystery and eerie calm of the beach-side setting, frequently swathed in gentle clouds of mist that foreshadow the ambiguity and uncertainty of the story that follows. When we first glimpse Joan Bennett on the fog-swathed coast, collecting driftwood at the wreck of a grounded ship, she really does look ghostly and ethereal, a premonition that may or may not be real.

Robert Ryan plays Scott, a coastguard who suffers from regular night terrors concerning memories of a war-time naval tragedy, when his ship was presumably torpedoed. His dream sequences are gripping and otherwordly, recalling the excellently surreal work achieved by Renoir in his silent short film, 'The Little Match Girl (1928).' During his nightmares, Scott imagines an underwater romantic liaison, which, before he can get intimate, unexpectedly blows up in his face; this is an apt indication of the events that unfold later in the film. Scott is engaged to marry the pretty Eve (Nan Leslie), but his attention is soon distracted by Peggy (Joan Bennett), the titular "woman on the beach." Peggy is married to Tod (Charles Bickford), a famous blind artist who is still coming to terms with his relatively recent affliction. At just 71 minutes in length, 'Woman on the Beach' feels far too short, the apparent victim of studio interference. Scott is obviously enamoured, and later obsessed, with femme fatale Peggy, in a manner than suggests Walter Neff's fixation with Phyllis Dietrichson, but the motivations behind his actions are inadequately explored and explained.

Perhaps as a result of the studio's trimming of scenes, many plot-twists in the film seem somewhat contrived. Scott's extreme determination in proving that Tod is faking blindness feels so incredibly illogical – why, indeed, would Tod even consider such a con? Many wonderful scenes are severely hampered by the story's lack of exposition. In the film's most dramatic scene, amid the choppy waters of the Atlantic, Robert Ryan displays a frighteningly convincing rage that borders on pure psychosis, a quality that Nicholas Ray exploited five years later in 'On Dangerous Ground (1952).' However, because Scott's obsession and emotional transformation had previously been explored so sparsely, the sequence feels, above all else, out of context. The performances are nevertheless solid across the board, with Bickford probably the most impressive. Bennett's character is tantalisingly ambiguous: throughout the film, she slowly reveals herself to be nothing but a greedy tramp, though Scott insists on treating her as a tormented victim of abuse. The ending offers little in the way of resolution, reaffirming the sentiment that perhaps this film isn't all there.


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