DIRECTOR Roy Ward Baker
Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft, Donna Corcoran, Jeanne Cagney, Lurene Tuttle, Elisha Cook Jr., Jim Backus, Verna Felton, Willis B. Bouhey, Don Beddoe
What's interesting about this movie is that it's so disturbing. Considered a minor film in Monroe's canon, it's uncomfortable to watch now that we're so saturated with information about her unhappy life. She plays a woman who's had a nervous breakdown because she tried to escape a miserable family life by falling for a young fighter pilot. They had sex in a hotel before marriage, then he went away and got killed in the war and she tried to slash her wrists. So her folks put her away in a funny farm, and now she's come out to live in the city with her uncle, who reminds her of her unsympathetic, impatient parents. That's dark territory for Monroe, and you can't help wondering what she thought of the role. In any case, it's rather uncanny to watch her breaking down. She abuses the girl she is babysitting by tying her up, and at one point she says tellingly about the crying girl "They stop if you ignore them." We are left to conclude that this is how she herself has been treated. In a later speech to the girl, she identifies herself and her goals with the girl and her goals. "We can all get what we want and live happily ever after, understand?" But she does not play a psychopath, as her role is so often described. In the opinion of Widmark, whose character matures and deepens through his encounter with her, she's just a mixed-up girl who "would never have hurt that kid." Although Widmark has a soberly happy ending, Monroe does not.