The Reckless Moment (1949)

81 mins | Melodrama | November 1949

Director:

Max Ophüls

Producer:

Walter Wanger

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Editor:

Gene Havlick

Production Designer:

Cary Odell

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The film's working title was The Blank Wall . It was shot on location in Balboa and Los Angeles, CA, according to the Var review. This was the last film that noted German director Max Ophüls made in the ... More Less

The film's working title was The Blank Wall . It was shot on location in Balboa and Los Angeles, CA, according to the Var review. This was the last film that noted German director Max Ophüls made in the U.S. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Oct 1949.
---
Daily Variety
12 Oct 49
p. 3, 10
Film Daily
17 Oct 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 49
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 49
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Oct 49
p. 58.
New York Times
30 Dec 49
p. 13.
Variety
19 Oct 49
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Blank Wall" by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding in Ladies' Home Journal (Oct 1947).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Blank Wall
Release Date:
November 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 29 December 1949
Production Date:
17 March--15 April 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 October 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2575
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13987
SYNOPSIS

Without telling her family, Lucia Harper drives from her seaside home in Balboa to Los Angeles to warn reprobate Ted Darby to stay away from her seventeen-year-old daughter Beatrice. When Darby agrees to leave Bea alone for a price, Lucia refuses to pay him off, convinced that her daughter will have no interest in a man who would accept that kind of money. Back in Balboa, Bea, who has already spoken to Darby on the phone, does not believe her mother's story and refuses to stop seeing him. Lucia, whose husband Tom is out of town, must handle this problem without his help and forbids Bea to return to art school in Los Angeles. That night, Bea sneaks out of the house and meets Darby in the boathouse, but when he admits that he did ask for money, she strikes out at him in anger with her flashlight. Dazed, Darby stumbles outside and is killed when he falls on top of an anchor. Lucia then discovers her distraught daughter and sends her back to bed. Early the next morning, Lucia finds Darby's body and, not wanting her daughter to be involved in a scandal, dumps the body in the bay along with the anchor that killed him. A short time later, Darby's body is found, but as no one in Balboa knows of their acquaintance, neither Lucia nor Bea are suspected. Lucia believes that she has solved their problems until a man named Martin Donnelly comes to the house and offers to sell her love letters that Bea wrote to Darby. A horrified Lucia is willing to pay the money, ... +


Without telling her family, Lucia Harper drives from her seaside home in Balboa to Los Angeles to warn reprobate Ted Darby to stay away from her seventeen-year-old daughter Beatrice. When Darby agrees to leave Bea alone for a price, Lucia refuses to pay him off, convinced that her daughter will have no interest in a man who would accept that kind of money. Back in Balboa, Bea, who has already spoken to Darby on the phone, does not believe her mother's story and refuses to stop seeing him. Lucia, whose husband Tom is out of town, must handle this problem without his help and forbids Bea to return to art school in Los Angeles. That night, Bea sneaks out of the house and meets Darby in the boathouse, but when he admits that he did ask for money, she strikes out at him in anger with her flashlight. Dazed, Darby stumbles outside and is killed when he falls on top of an anchor. Lucia then discovers her distraught daughter and sends her back to bed. Early the next morning, Lucia finds Darby's body and, not wanting her daughter to be involved in a scandal, dumps the body in the bay along with the anchor that killed him. A short time later, Darby's body is found, but as no one in Balboa knows of their acquaintance, neither Lucia nor Bea are suspected. Lucia believes that she has solved their problems until a man named Martin Donnelly comes to the house and offers to sell her love letters that Bea wrote to Darby. A horrified Lucia is willing to pay the money, but cannot get it without driving again to Los Angeles, an act that would make her family suspicious. When she meets Donnelly the following day, she begs for more time. Donnelly, in the meantime, has become enamored of Lucia, and tells her that if she can raise enough to pay his partner Nagle, he will not take his share of the money. Even so, Lucia finds that she cannot borrow such a large sum of money without her husband's signature. She tries to use her jewelry as collateral, but still cannot get a loan without explaining how she will make the payments. She then pawns her jewelry for $800. When Lucia gives Donnelly the money she has been able to raise, he tells her that one of Darby's shady associates has been arrested for Darby's murder. Lucia is upset, knowing the man to be innocent, and tells Donnelly that she killed Darby. Donnelly does not believe her, however, and advises her that even if the arrested man did not commit the murder, he is guilty of many other crimes. Believing herself to be free of the blackmail threat, Lucia is stunned to discover that Nagle has come to her house to demand his payment. Donnelly overhears their argument and fights with Nagle, killing him. Lucia wants to tell the police everything, but Donnelly stops her, explaining that her resemblance to his mother has made him want to behave decently for the first time. After Lucia leaves to fetch bandages for the wounded Donnelly, he runs away with the body. Lucia and her maid, Sybil, follow and see Donnelly crash the car into a post. When Lucia tries to help, Donnelly hands her Bea's letters and tells her the police will think that Nagle was killed in the accident. He sends a brokenhearted Lucia away, and later she learns that before he died, Donnelly confessed to Darby's murder. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.