O

OBSESSION(An Independent Sovereign Film, 1949)—Crime/film noir. Director: Edward Dmytryk; Producer: N. A. Bronsten; Script: Alec Coppel, based on his novel A Man about a Dog; Cinematography: CM. Pennington-Richards; Music: Nino Rota; Cast: Robert Newton (Dr. Clive Riordan), Sally Gray (Storm Riordan), Phil Brown (Bill Kronin), Naunton Wayne (Superintendent Finsbury), James Harcourt (Aitken), Ronald Adam (Clubman), and Michael Balfour (American Sailor).

In the late 1940s, Edward Dmytryk was forced out of Hollywood because of the blacklisting of communists, socialists, and fellow travellers. Dmytryk was a key figure during this period (he was eventually imprisoned for twelve months and then welcomed back into Hollywood when he supplied names to the House Committee on Un-American Activities) as his last Hollywood film before leaving for England was the controversial Crossfire (1947), a film that was singled out because of its overt anti-Semitism. Thus, for a director familiar with the world of film noir and the low-budget thriller (see Murder, My Sweet [1944] and Cornered [1946]), Obsession offered Dmytryk an opportunity to work within this type of film in Britain.

The outcome is a fascinating mixture of styles and narrative modes as U.S. film noir mutates into a different cultural context. Yet, despite the film's civilized tone, which emphasizes the superficial display of civility and manners between the three central characters (and a characteristically perceptive, if eccentric English police detective), Obsession still preserves a basic ingredient of film noir: the destructive power of sexual repression. The characters belong to the hard-boiled world of film noir—the bitter husband (Dr. Clive Riordan) who wants to preserve his marriage by killing his latest rival (Bill Kronin) despite the fact that his adulterous wife (Storm Riordan) despises him.

The basic dramatic situation in Obsession is a familiar one—Harley Street specialist Dr. Clive Riordan resents the succession of lovers attracted to his wife,

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Guide to British Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • A 1
  • B 16
  • C 47
  • D 90
  • E 120
  • F 126
  • G 144
  • H 173
  • I 200
  • J 213
  • K 218
  • L 226
  • M 256
  • N 278
  • O 291
  • P 299
  • Q 311
  • R 313
  • S 331
  • T 353
  • U 373
  • V 375
  • W 378
  • Z 398
  • Appendix: List of Films, Actors, and Directors, 1929-2000 401
  • Selected Bibliography 405
  • Index 411
  • About the Author 441
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