Beware, My Lovely

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"Trapped by a man beyond control!"
  • Approved
  • 1952
  • 1 hr 16 min
  • 6.6  (2,315)

Set in a small town during Christmas, Beware, My Lovely tells the story of a wealthy widower, Mrs. Warren (Taylor Holmes), who hires a handyman, Howard Wilton (Robert Ryan), to fix a broken stair. But as the night goes on, it becomes clear that Wilton is not who he seems. He suffers from a severe mental illness, and as he becomes increasingly paranoid and delusional, he begins to terrorize Mrs. Warren and her newly-hired live-in help, a young and vulnerable woman named Helen Gordon (Ida Lupino).

The tension in the film is palpable from the start. Howard Wilton is a deeply disturbed man, prone to sudden outbursts of anger and suspicion. Ida Lupino plays Helen with a perfect blend of fear and determination - she knows she is in danger, but she is determined to protect herself and Mrs. Warren as best she can. Robert Ryan’s performance is truly exceptional. He is believable as both a gentle handyman and a menacing madman.

As the night wears on, Howard’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. He rants and raves about imaginary enemies, and becomes convinced that Mrs. Warren is plotting against him. He is convinced that Helen is in cahoots with Mrs. Warren, and threatens to harm her if she doesn’t confess to her supposed transgressions. It’s a harrowing experience watching Howard spiral out of control, and each moment of suspense is expertly crafted by director Harry Horner.

The film is shot in black and white, which adds an extra layer of tension and dread to the proceedings. The house where most of the action takes place is dimly lit, with long shadows cast everywhere. This makes Howard’s sudden appearances all the more startling, as he seems to materialize out of thin air.

The movie is a slow burn, with tension building slowly but surely throughout the night. The viewer is never quite sure what Howard is going to do next, or when he’s going to snap completely. It’s a credit to the filmmakers that they manage to make such a confined setting feel so claustrophobic, and the film’s pacing is spot on.

Taylor Holmes is excellent as Mrs. Warren, the wealthy, lonely widow who has inadvertently brought a violent stranger into her home. She is a sympathetic character, although we quickly realize that she is not entirely blameless - she has made a terrible mistake in hiring Howard, and she is powerless to stop him now. Her quiet desperation is palpable, and she and Ida Lupino play off each other beautifully.

Beware, My Lovely is a masterclass in suspenseful filmmaking. It’s not an action-packed movie, nor is it particularly graphic, but it manages to hold the viewer’s attention from beginning to end. The film’s themes of mental illness and isolation are timeless, and its exploration of desperation and fear is still relevant today.

Overall, Beware, My Lovely is a tense, well-crafted thriller that deserves more recognition. Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, and Taylor Holmes all give strong performances, and Harry Horner’s direction is top-notch. The film builds slowly but surely towards a satisfying climax, and the viewer is left feeling drained but exhilarated by the end. If you’re a fan of classic thrillers, this one is definitely worth a watch.

Beware, My Lovely
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 16 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (2,315)