THE LOST MOMENT (1947)
Article 2408 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-30-2007
Posting Date: 3-16-2008
Directed by Martin Gabel
Featuring Robert Cummings, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead
A publisher discovers that a certain house in Venice contains several love letters by a famous poet, and, in hopes of getting his hands on them, he disguises himself as a writer so he can move into the house. He discovers some haunting and bizarre secrets about the ancient matriarch that owns the house, and her niece.
This movie is based on a novel by Henry James, who also wrote “The Turn of the Screw”, the famous horror story that served as the basis for THE INNOCENTS . This one is not a horror story, but there are some surprising horror elements to it; the daughter has a truly strange split personality, in that she ends up believing that she is her aunt at a much younger age when she was romancing the poet in question. Combine that with a spooky old house, and you actually have enough eeriness here to make the movie less marginal than it might seem. In fact, I found it reminiscent of HOUSE OF USHER , with the ancient Matriarch of this movie (Agnes Moorehead) somewhat similar to the Roderick Usher character in that movie. The movie’s biggest problem is that it is rather talky, and it requires a certain amount of patience to sit through. Those who do manage, though, may find themselves engrossed by the very interesting story, and it does bear some resemblance to “The Turn of the Screw”, in that madness and obsession with the past both play major roles in the story. The movie also features Eduardo Ciannelli in one of the more sympathetic roles I’ve seen him in.