Monday, October 14, 2013

If This Be Sin (1949)


“We cause our own bad fortune.”

            If This Be Sin is a mixed bag of a film. It is first and foremost a drama a relationship drama where a wife cheats on her husband. That should be enough of a drama right there but then it turns into an even bigger drama when the husband’s daughter likes the same man her step-mother likes. It was done before to in Mildred Pierce but If This Be Sin does not end tragically.
            Lady Cathy Brooke (Myrna Loy) goes to see her husband Brian, a British barrister, in court in a much publicized and talked about trial. In the middle of giving a speech Brian stops, takes a drink, and cannot go further when he grabs his eyes and falls to the floor. Brian is brought home. Cathy does not allow anyone to see him even his own sister while the doctors look him over. The doctor tells Cathy she has to take Brian away for six months in order for him to get well he needs to be away from anything that will shock him.
            For six months Cathy and Brian live on the Italian island of Capri. Cathy’s duty twenty-four hours a day seven days a week is to take care of her husband. She felt trapped before in their marriage with him constantly working and now she feels even more trapped but this time she is enjoying her time with her husband. Their relationship feels renewed. Brian opens some letters and has Cathy read them. She begins to read a letter then stops. She tells Brian the letter contains something that would not be proper to read out loud. He convinces her to read the letter to him. Cathy reads the letter. Someone has written anonymously about her having an affair with Michael Barcleigh, one of Brian’s partners in the law firm. Brian is furious until Cathy tells him that his daughter Monica has been the one seeing him.
            Hearing the news Michael comes to Italy. Cathy goes out to the pier to meet him. She tells him he should not have come there was no need for him to. He had to come and see her and gives her a necklace. That night Cathy lets Monica know that Michael is in town and will be coming over. She needs Monica to pretend to be seeing Michael because that is what she told Brian. Monica says she hates the way Michael treats her life a child yet at the same time she is infatuated with him. The entire time Michael is in Capri he is with Monica. They become close.
            The family returns to London as soon as Brian is feeling well. Michael and Monica continue seeing each other and eventually become engaged. Brian is lead on to believe that Cathy was having an affair with Michael before Monica began seeing him and does not hide his anger in a speech at a party one night. Monica figures out that Michael had been seeing Cathy and the reason Cathy told her to pretend to be with him in Italy. For a while the two women do not talk.
            Eventually Cathy is forgiven and Monica and Michael get married. Before driving away on her honeymoon Cathy runs after Monica to say goodbye and Monica gets out of the car to do so.
            Myrna Loy was stunning in this film. Stunning is not a word I often use to describe her. She was always pretty or adorable but never really stunning. I think that had a lot to with Loy’s costumes in her films. The only films I think she ever looked great in were Manhattan Melodrama and Evelyn Prentice. In If This Be Sin Loy was dressed by the Italian designers Fontana Sisters. They made the costumes for Ava Gardner when she was in The Barefoot Contessa and her costumes were gorgeous. Loy’s costumes in this film looked perfect on her they were so beautiful. They were not glamorous they were plain and simple and because Loy was never flamboyant or over the top the costumes suited her personality and acting style. Loy’s acting was top notch as usual. There was a scene where she had to yell and be mad. That was something completely different for her, sure she would get mad or get emotional or upset in her earlier films but never like she did here. If it is possible I adore Myrna Loy more after seeing her in that scene.

            If This Be Sin was originally called The Case of Lady Brooke then it was called That Dangerous Age when it was released in Europe. The title was changed to If This Be Sin when it was released in the States. The US title does not fit the story line whatsoever, That Dangerous Age is more appropriate. Anyway, the story was alright I am not a fan of a mother and daughter liking the same man plot. The acting by the rest of the cast was decent they were not the greatest. I will only suggest watching If This Be Sin if you are a fan of Myrna Loy.