Malombra (1942)

Article 4898 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-12-2015
Directed by Mario Soldati
Featuring Isa Miranda, Andrea Checchi, Irasema Dilian
Country: Italy
What it is: Gothic thriller

A noblewoman stays with her uncle under the agreement that she will not leave until she is married. She comes by a letter from her grandfather’s first wife, who was held prisoner in the same castle. The gist of the letter is that the noblewoman is the reincarnation of this woman, and is given several predictions for the future, and instructions to take revenge for her death by killing off the descendants of her grandfather. The noblewoman laughs it off at first, but then the predictions start coming true….

This is an interesting if overlong Gothic thriller made in Italy during the Axis years, and Isa Miranda, though largely forgotten nowadays, was considered one of the finest actresses of that era. Her performance as a woman who may be mad or possessed is one of the most effective things about the movie, and it’s quite interested to watch the way she manipulates and uses those around her to accomplish her aims. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t really start moving until about two-thirds of the way through, and though the acting is strong and visuals are interesting, the first two-thirds of the movie (which sets up the characters and situations) does go on a bit too long. However, it’s very effective in the climax, and it has one of those twists that I really like, in that they catch you by surprise at first and then you realize it was a logical extension of the story. It’s a solid, satisfying movie, and several of the comments I read about it compare it to Hitchcock’s REBECCA. It’s worth a look.

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