• Two Mrs. Carrolls, The

    Released by: Warner Archive
    Released on: 3/1/2011
    Director: Peter Godfrey
    Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Alexis Smith, Nigel Bruce
    Year: 1947

    The Movie:

    Directed by Peter Godfrey, 1947’s The Two Mrs. Carrolls pairs up two of the biggest starts of the decade in a film that begins with a painter named Geoffrey Carroll (Bogart) sketching his girlfriend of two weeks, Sally (Stanwyck), out in the woods. The rain comes down and they take refuse in a cave where she finds an un-mailed letter in his coat addressed to Mrs. Geoffrey Carroll. She learns he’s been married all this time and they go their separate ways until Geoffrey’s first wife passes away from what is presumed to be a natural death. They marry and she takes a liking to his young daughter, Beatrice (Ann Carter).

    Things seem to be going fine until Sally’s ex-fiancé, Charles Pennington (Patrick O’Moore) comes by to visit with two clients – Cecily Latham (Alexis Ford) and her mother (Isobel Elsom). As it turns out, Cecily has been making eyes at Geoffrey in town for some time now and she’d love nothing more than to have him paint her portrait. He obliges and they have an affair, right around the time that Sally begins to take ill. Her doctor, the hard drinking Tuttle (Nigel Bruce), says that it’s nothing but nerves but Geoffrey’s string of lies soon begins to unravel. Sally starts to wonder if the fact that Geoffrey painted his late wife as the angel of death might be more than an odd artistic coincidence…

    While The Two Mrs. Carrolls might not be the fastest paced thriller ever made, it does make the interesting point of casting Bogart against type and he turns out to be just as good as you’d expect him to be in the part. He plays his devilish character with just the right amount of smug charisma it calls for and yet still manages to be convincing in the more romantic scenes in which he professes his love for Sally. Stanwyck, also cast against type when you consider she was usually playing the femme fatale character around this time in her career, is just as good in her role. She successfully plys for our sympathy and convines us that she really does love her husband despite his issues. Supporting roles from Dr. Watson himself, Nigel Bruce, and Ann Carter (of The Curse Of The Cat People!) add to the fun while Alexis Ford successfully vamps it up and seduces both the leading man and the audience. O’Moore, who would later pop up in everything from The Mechanic to The A-Team, is a bit of a snooty stuffed shirt here but he plays the part well, as does Elsom, who is probably best known for My Fair Lady. Barry Bernard, who pops up in Return Of The Fly and an episode of The Twilight Zone, cast as a crooked chemist named Horace Blagdon is great in his small role. Anita Sharp-Bolster of Scarlett Street fame, cast here as the smart mouthed Christine the maid, also stands out in the cast.

    The direction is strong even if the pacing isn’t, and the film makes good use of some interesting indoor and outdoor sets and locations. It’s a slow burn of a film and maybe a little bit on the predictable side but a few stand out set pieces help keep the tension high right up until the finale, and the image of Geoffrey’s ‘angel of death’ paintings are still more than just a little bit creepy. Some excellent cinematography and a rousing score from Franz Waxman also help a great deal. If it borrows a bit from Hitchcock in certain regards (with an amusing nod to Casablanca with a single line of dialogue), so be it, the end result is a well rounded and nicely made picture that still entertains and delivers the suspense.


    The Two Mrs. Carrolls is presented in its original fullframe aspect ratio in reasonably good shape. The packaging touts a restored transfer but there are still plenty of nicks and scratches present on the picture. None of this is really much of a detriment, but videophiles will find room to complain and with reason. Contrast looks pretty good and black levels are generally stable. There aren’t any compression artifacts or edge enhancement issues to note and if a bit more cleanup work could and should have gone into this one, this is certainly an acceptable picture.

    The sole audio option is an English language Dolby Digital Mono track that’s a bit on the low side. You’ll want to turn up the volume a bit to make out the dialogue here, though thankfully the track is at least well balanced once you turn it up. The odd pop is audible here and there and once in a while things border on shrill but overall this mix is fine. No alternate language dubs or subtitles are offered.

    The static menu doesn’t offer up much in the way of extra features though the film’s original theatrical trailer is included.

    The Final Word:

    A well made and stylish noir infused thriller, The Two Mrs. Carrolls really should have been given a special edition DVD release. That didn’t happen for whatever reason and so this Warner Archive version will have to do. Thankfully it’s of pretty reasonable quality, so fans of this fairly maligned classic can now add it to their collection, and the inclusion of the trailer is a nice touch. Enjoy it with someone you love and a nice glass of milk.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Never seen it or heard of it before last night, but I really enjoyed it.

      And I still swear I know that little girl from something even if the imdb doesn't agree...