Impact ★★★★

I hadn't seen this late 1940s film in years, and I quite enjoyed it the second time around. It has a three-part structure - the first is film-noirish with good San Francisco location photography, the second is set in a small town in Iowa where the lead character has a redemptive experience, and the third is a courtroom drama where the murder that happens in Part I gets resolved. Yet it all works, largely due to a tight script and the talented cast of mostly second-tier Hollywood leads and great character actors.

I've never found Brian Donlevy especially exciting as an actor but he is good enough. He plays a wealthy industrialist whose wife's lover attempts to kill - only to have the tables turned and the lover killed instead. Helen Walker is at her best, playing the duplicitous wife - she plays wicked characters so well, as attested by her fine performance as the conniving psychiatrist in 1947's "Nightmare Alley". Ella Raines plays the small town widow who falls in love with Donlevy and becomes his champion. And there's a bevy of great Hollywood character actors - including Charles Coburn, Anna May Wong (playing a small but pivotal role), Philip Ahn and Mae Marsh (who was a big star in D.W. Griffith's silent epics decades before) playing Raines' wise mother.

A combo of noir, romance and murder mystery, I was glad to finally see this again. It is streaming this week on the Watch TCM app, and is worth seeing for fans of 1940s films.