AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Whirlpool
Alternate Title: Methinks the Lady
Director: Otto Preminger (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1950
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles, Chicago and New York openings: 13 Jan 1950
Production Date:   6 Jun--mid-Jul 1949
Duration (in mins):   97
Duration (in feet):   8,746
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Gene Tierney (Ann Sutton)  
    Richard Conte (Dr. Bill Sutton)  
    José Ferrer (David Korvo)  
    Charles Bickford (Lieutenant James Colton)  
    Barbara O'Neil (Theresa Randolph)  
    Eduard Franz (Martin Avery)  
    Constance Collier (Tina Cosgrove)  
    Fortunio Bonanova (Feruccio)  
    Ian MacDonald (Store Detective Hogan)  
    Bruce Hamilton (Sergeant Robert Jeffreys)  
    Alex Gerry (Dr. Peter Duval)  
    Ruth Lee (Miss Hall)  
    Larry Keating (Mr. Simms)  
    Mauritz Hugo (Hotel clerk)  
    John Trebach (Freddie)  
    Myrtle Anderson (Agnes)  
    Larry Dobkin (Dr. Wayne)  
    Jane Van Duser (Miss Andrews)  
    Nancy Valentine (Taffy Lou)  
    Clancy Cooper (Watchman)  
    Eddie Dunn (Watchman)  
    Randy Stuart (Miss Landau)  
    Helen Westcott (Secretary)  
    Mack Williams (Whorton)  
    Howard Negley (Gordon)  
    Robert Foulk (Policeman)  
    Charles J. Flynn (Policeman)  
    Joyce MacKenzie (Telephone operator)  
    Ted Jordan (Parking attendant)  
    Sue Carlton (Elevator girl)  
    Lovyss Bradley (Nurse)  
    Ruth Clifford (Nurse)  
    Margaret Brayton (Policewoman)  
    Roger Moore (Fingerprint man)  
    Phyllis Hill (Guest at party)  
    Anitra Sparrow (Miss Landon)  
    Wanda Perry (Miss Wilson)  
    Beau Anderson (Soldier)  
    John Duncan (Soldier)  
    Jay Eaton    
    Robert Garvin    
    Shirley Witkin    
    Oliver Cross    
    Margaret Zane    
    Joan Dix    
    Lillian West    
    Gail Bonney    
    Kathryn Lang    

Summary: In a Los Angeles department store, unorthodox therapist David Korvo watches as Ann Sutton, wife of famous psychoanalyst Dr. Bill Sutton, is stopped for shoplifting. After convincing the manager that arresting her would mean a scandal for the store, he arranges to meet her the next day. Although Ann assumes that Korvo is a blackmailer, he gives her the store records to destroy, and invites her to a party a few days later. There, Korvo informs her that he can tell that she is a kleptomaniac, and is tired and hurt by emotional pressures. When Ann admits that she cannot sleep, Korvo assures her that he can help and then hypnotizes her without her knowledge. A patient of Bill's, Theresa Randolph, sees them together and moments later warns Ann that Korvo must be after her money, to which Ann responds angrily. After a deep night's sleep, she gratefully accepts an appointment with Korvo, but insists they meet in his building's bar instead of his apartment. In the bar, Ann agrees to see Korvo professionally, and then leaves to call Theresa to apologize. Her absense gives him enough time to steal her glass and scarf, then break his own glass and ask the waiter to clean it up. A few nights later, Ann, under a hypnotic spell, retrieves the recordings of Theresa's therapy sessions with Bill and hides them in Theresa's house. While entering the house, she trips an alarm, then sits calmly next to Theresa's body, which has been strangled with Ann's scarf. Ann is arrested, and when she cannot tell Lieutenant James Colton what she did that night, he assumes that she is in love with Korvo and killed Theresa out of jealousy. Bill arrives at the station and does not believe Ann's pleas of innocence, as he has learned that the police have found a glass supposedly left by Ann in Korvo's apartment, and that Ann is alleged to have argued with both Korvo and Theresa. Bill then remembers a therapy session during which Theresa claimed that Korvo stole her daughter's inheritance and that she had threatened to expose him. Bill suspects Korvo may have killed Theresa because of the accusation, but Colton soon discovers that Korvo is recuperating from surgery that was done on the day of the murder. After Bill offers to play the recordings of Theresa's sessions, he finds them missing. Bill, his lawyer and Colton then question Ann again, but Bill thinks she is lying and leaves, after which she confesses to being a kleptomaniac. Bill learns about her revelation and immediately runs to Colton to tell him that he believes Ann was hypnotized into stealing the records and that Korvo then hypnotized himself to rise immediately after surgery to kill Theresa. Colton does not agree but, sympathetic because of the recent loss of his own wife, consents to take Ann back to Theresa's house to jog her memory. Meanwhile, Korvo, hearing that the police believe the records will pinpoint the murderer, hypnotizes himself so that he can go to Theresa's without pain and destroy the recordings. There, he hears Colton, Bill and Ann enter, and hides while Bill assures Ann that she can trust him to heal her. As Ann regains her memory, Korvo desperately holds them at gunpoint and plays the records while making his way to the door. Before he can escape, Korvo dies from internal bleeding, and Colton calls for an ambulance as Ann and Bill embrace. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Otto Preminger (Dir)
  Eli Dunn (Asst dir)
Producer: Otto Preminger (Prod)
Writer: Ben Hecht (Scr)
  Andrew Solt (Scr)
Photography: Arthur Miller (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler (Art dir)
  Leland Fuller (Art dir)
Film Editor: Louis Loeffler (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
  Walter M. Scott (Set dec)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Ward dir)
  Oleg Cassini (Gene Tierney's cost des)
Music: Alfred Newman (Mus dir)
  David Raksin (Mus)
  Edward Powell (Orch)
Sound: Winston Leverett (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Dr. H. A. Conway (Tech adv)
  Fred D. Schneider (Tech adv)
  Milton Stone (Tech adv)
  Cora Presser (Tech adv)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel Methinks the Lady by Guy Endore (New York, 1945).
Authors: Guy Endore

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 27/1/1950 dd/mm/yyyy LP2940

PCA NO: 13925
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Psychological
 
Subjects (Major): Frame-ups
  Hypnotism
  Kleptomania
  Marriage
  Murder
  Psychologists
 
Subjects (Minor): Arrests
  Bars
  Circumstantial evidence
  Confession
  Department stores
  Inheritance
  Lawyers
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Memory
  Operations, Surgical
  Parties
  Police
  Prisons
  Recordings
  Scarves
  Strangling
  Wounds and injuries

Note: The working titles of this film were Methinks the Lady and Dilemma . Letters from spring 1945, contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, indicate that M-G-M was the first studio to express interest in producing a film based on Guy Endore's novel, and that Pandro S. Berman was to be the producer. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and Produced Scripts Collection, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Endore collaborated with Harry Kleiner on several drafts of a screenplay for the picture, but it is doubtful that any of their work was used in the finished film. In Apr 1946, an HR news item announced that William Eythe would star in the picture, although in Jun 1946, HR noted that Eythe was to be replaced by Cornel Wilde. According to studio records, Thomas Brown Henry was originally set for the role of "Mr. Simms." None of these actors appeared in the final film. Due to screenwriter Ben Hecht's self-proclaimed anti-British views, in regard to England's political relationship with Palestine, the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association of Great Britain passed a resolution in 1948 stating that none of its members would show a film with which Hecht was associated, according to a 26 Nov 1950 NYT article. The article notes that Whirlpool was exhibited in England, however, because Hecht's work on the picture took place before the ban was enacted. Hecht's name was removed from the onscreen credits, and the pseudonym "Lester Bartow" was inserted. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   3 Dec 1949.   
Daily Variety   23 Nov 49   p. 3, 19
Film Daily   28 Nov 49   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Dec 45   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Dec 45   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 46   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jun 46   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Nov 48   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   27 May 49   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jun 49   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 49   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Nov 49   pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Jan 50   p. 4.
Los Angeles Examiner   14 Jan 1950.   
Motion Picture Daily   28 Nov 1949.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   26 Nov 49   p. 97.
New York Times   14 Jan 50   p. 9.
New York Times   26 Nov 1950.   
Variety   23 Nov 49   p. 8.

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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.
 
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