The Reckless Moment DVD (Region One) Black & White. James Mason, Joan Bennett.
Director Max Opuls' nuanced, ironic film noir is near perfection. Joan Bennett is a respectable mother in a California coastal town. Family life is proving nettlesome, what with a husband traveling the globe on business, a teenage son drawn to inappropriate states of attire, and two live-ins, a father-in-law and a cook/housekeeper. The nettle-in-chief, however, is her handful of a daughter (Geraldine Brooks) - who she fancies herself a worldly woman and has taken up with a penniless but pretentious lecher, who winds up dead. Bennett's battle to cover up the death soon reels with tension. Into the mix ambles beautifully shaded James Mason with an Irish lilt, wanting extortion money for incriminating love letters. Between Mason and Bennett grows strange affection. With voluptuous slow takes, Ophuls creates a rich texture ranging from shabby seaside respectability to the grungy sidewalks of nearby Los Angeles. An overlooked masterpiece, not to be missed.