Extortion -- Drama, Married women -- United States -- Drama, Middle class -- California -- Drama

The Reckless Moment

Based on The Blank Wall by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding


James Mason, Joan Bennett, Geraldine Brooks, Henry O'Neill,

Elizabeth Sanxay Holding, whom Raymond Chandler called “the top suspense writer of them all,” wrote The Blank Wall (1947) about a wartime wife who starts out hiding cigarettes and ends up hiding a body. Ophuls captures the subtext, as Juliet Clark describes: “The Reckless Moment traces the traps of American domesticity with both irony and painful compassion. The plot is set in motion by the accidental killing of Joan Bennett’s daughter’s unsavory lover, but the film’s emotional intensity derives less from this crisis than from the relentlessness of the everyday . . . a condition only sympathetic blackmailer James Mason seems to notice.”

  • Henry Garson
  • Robert Soderburg
Based On
  • the novel The Blank Wall by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding

  • Burnett Guffey
  • English
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 82 mins
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment

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The reckless moment (review), Reader (Chicago, Ill.), Jonathan Rosenbaum, 2001

Tracking eternity: Max Ophuls' moving pictures (program note), Film Society of Lincoln Center, Kent Jones, 1999

Max Ophuls: moving pictures (program note), Pacific Film Archive, Judy Bloch, 1999

Max Ophuls: moving pictures (press release), San Francisco Film Society, 1999

Max Ophuls: moving pictures (flyer), San Francisco Film Society, 1999

The reckless moment (program note), Telluride Film Festival, 1998

Houses, phones and cars : domestic spaces in Max Ophuls' The reckless moment (article), Movietone News, Norman Hale, 1978

Max Ophuls (program note), National Film Theatre (London, England), Paul Willemen, 1978

Ophuls (monograph), British Film Institute, Paul Willemen, 1978

Max Ophuls: an index (monograph), British Film Institute, Richard Roud, 1958

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