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Whirlpool (1949)

Gene Tierney , Richard Conte , Otto Preminger  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, José Ferrer, Charles Bickford, Barbara O'Neil
  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Writers: Andrew Solt, Ben Hecht, Guy Endore
  • Producers: Otto Preminger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dubbed, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009X7682
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,054 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Whirlpool" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The wife of a psycho-analyst falls prey to a devious quack hypnotist when he discovers she is an habitual shoplifter. Then one of his previous patients now being treated by the real doctor is found murdered, with her still at the scene, and suspicion points only one way.

Laura will always be director Otto Preminger's most beloved movie, but he gets closer to the essence of film noir in this fascinatingly slippery item about a psychiatrist's wife whose weakness for kleptomania makes her prey to an oily hypnotist, con artist, and manipulator par excellence. The fashion-plate wife (dresses, robes, and peignoirs by Oleg Cassini) is played by Laura herself, Gene Tierney. The mellifluous conniver is Jose Ferrer, coming off like the illegitimate son of Waldo Lydecker ("I'm so glad you're here--you make Tina's party seem an almost human event"). Among other things, Ferrer would probably like to get Tierney into bed, and a good many people--including Richard Conte as the caring husband--come to believe he has. But that's not the extent of his ambitions, and before long Tierney has been framed for a murder of convenience to clear up another bit of messiness in the cad's career. Whirlpool's mise-en-scène has a sinuous fluidity and subtle play of light and shadow (it was among the last films shot by that master of black-and-white, Arthur C. Miller), and the complexly structured screenplay--by Ben Hecht and Andrew Solt--takes us by surprise in reel after reel. There's nothing redeeming about Ferrer's character (except how much pleasure his villainy affords), but Preminger doesn't really side with any of the characters or permit our facile identification with anyone. Different parts of the movie are dominated by each of the key figures, including police detective Charles Bickford, and we keep learning there's more to each of them than we initially assumed. Whirlpool's a good title for it. Dive in. --Richard T. Jameson

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Believe it or not, Whirlpool (1949) is my very first Otto Preminger film, probably because I spend a great deal of time rummaging around in the cinematic `bargain bin', meaning many of the movies I watch (almost exclusively on DVD) tend not to be of the highest caliber...that's not to say I don't enjoy wonderful films like this, but I may not review them as often as I should...anyway, based on a novel by Guy Endore titled "Methinks The Lady", and directed by Otto Preminger (Laura, The Man with the Golden Arm, Porgy and Bess), the film stars the very lovely Gene Tierney (Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, The Razor's Edge), Richard Conte (Call Northside 777, The Blue Gardenia, Ocean's Eleven), and José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac, Moulin Rouge), whom I'm thankful to see in a decent, if not excellent role, given the last two films I saw him in, Dracula's Dog (1978) and Bloody Birthday (1981), were hardly vehicles that showcased his true talents, but I suppose in Hollywood, to maintain a sense of longevity in terms of an acting career, you take what you can get...also appearing is Charles Bickford (Brute Force, A Star Is Born) and Barbara O'Neil (Gone with the Wind, I Remember Mama).

As the film begins we see an attractive woman (Tierney) leaving a department store (stores have valet parking? I gotta get out more...), soon to be accosted by the store detective, as she's caught stealing an expensive trinket. As she's hauled back in, protesting all the way, a man named David Korvo (Ferrer) recognizes the woman, and comes to her aide. Turns out she's Ann Sutton, wife to a prominent and affluent psychoanalyst named Dr. William Sutton (Conte). The management, seeing the possibility of negative publicity for the store, releases Ann (must be nice...
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure noir December 19, 2005
This film and its DVD treatment are superb. There's nothing left to say that hasn't already been said in great detail by other reviewers but as a classic film fanatic and a film noir junkie I cannot recommend this title enough. If you've seen and enjoyed 'Laura' and or 'Where the Sidewalk Ends', both also starring the breath-taking Gene Tierney and directed by Otto Preminger, have no hesitation in securing this DVD for your collection. The price is at least half what it's worth!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
"Whirlpool" is a swirl of hypnotizing deceit, revenge, and murder. The beautiful Gene Tierney plays the kleptomaniac rich wife of psychiatrist, Richard Conte, who falls prey to the evil intentions of hypnotist, Jose Ferrer. Otto Preminger directs this film noir drama, that keeps the viewers attention throughout. Jose Ferrer is especially entertaining as the menacing hypnotist, who uses Gene Tierney to do his dirty work. This movie is a classic who-done-it, which had me knowing who must have obviously done it, but wondering "how" or "who" they used to do it. This one has a great conclusion at the end of the picture. "Whirlpool" is the ninth volume in the "Fox Film Noir" series and a very good addition. I highly recommend "Whirlpool" to film noir and Gene Tierney fans, and also recommend Otto Preminger's masterpiece "Laura" and the Fox Studio Classics release "Leave Her To Heaven," a story of psychotic obsession, also starring the lovely Gene Tierney.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tierney's best acting. A noir treat! July 24, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous film noir story set in every day upper-middle-class America. It presents the popular ambivalence felt at the time about psychoanalysis, with one "good" Doctor and one charlatan.

I am a fan of Gene Tierney, without thinking she a great actress. She was exceptionally pretty, had a very polished manner, and very average in range. This made her a wonderful representative of both the middle class, and their hopes of being refined. To my mind, while this is not her best film (That being either THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR or LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN), this IS her finest acting work. It uses her blankness to advantage, and this script also gives her the pathos and confusion to vent full emotional range which is rare for her films. (To the observant person, it also displays the flaws of her presentational acting style; as when she breaks down in a torrent of bitter tears, and looks up afterwards - dry eyed and serene. But for THIS film - playing a woman completely divorced from her own emotions - even that works to the benefit of the plot.)

An actor is always helped - made better, challenged more - by working with other great actors, and she is working here with one of the very best, Jose Ferrer. This was shortly before his academy award win in CYRANNO, and quite possibly, this incredibly complex performance contributed to that win, he is simply excellent. All screen villains should watch this, every second of his performance is filled with a gamut of emotions, and mundane details. It is clear that not only is his character the smartest person in the room, but Ferrer may be as well. Tierney carries the story and Ferrer moves it along. Charles Bickford also gives a marvelous performance in a smaller, yet layered role as the rumpled, grieving Detective.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Noir Finally Makes Its Way To DVD March 28, 2006
This film has been unavailable for so many years, so to finally have it on DVD is great. It is an unusual film noir from Otto Preminger and his favorite leading lady, Gene Tierney, who had starred in his classic "Laura" and whom had just completed her maternity leave when production began on "Whirlpool".

Tierney gives a fascinating performance as Ann Sutton, the beautiful wife of a prominent psychiatrist (Richard Conte) who suffers from kleptomania but who will do anything to conceal this. When hypnotist David Korvo (Jose Ferrer, very menacing here), gets her out of a jam with the local authorities due to her shoplifting tendencies, he decides to use it as a form of blackmail against her in order to use his hypnotizing skills on her. He gets her to perform all kinds of shady deeds, while succeeding in getting her conscious mind to suppress it. She is strangely drawn to him, while her dumbfounded husband can come to only one conclusion - that she and Korvo are involved in an illicit affair. Ann desperately tries to prove her innocence, and in the process, leads all involved in a potentially deadly trap to stop Korvo.

There are echoes of "Laura" throughout, including the portrait that hangs over the mantle at the home of the ill-fated Theresa Randolph (Barbara O'Neill, best remembered as Scarlett's mother in GWTW), and the final shootout. Definitely an off-beat movie of the noir genre, it is still a very watchable one. Richard Conte is a little unconvincing as Tierney's shrink husband, but he manages to pull it off, with efficient support from Tierney and Ferrer.

Can a man make a woman do things she doesn't want to do? Watch "Whirlpool" and draw your own conclusions.

A great addition to the Fox Film Noir collection.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Have seen this 3 times. One of my all time faves with Gene Tierney.
Published 29 days ago by Alyce Silva
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie!
Published 2 months ago by glokay
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I collect DVDs,I have over 3,500 and this is part of the collection
Published 3 months ago by R D F
4.0 out of 5 stars For Gene Tierney Fans
An unusual story about Gene being manipulated by a clever man who half hypnotizes her, half blackmails her. An intriguing tales although not her very best work. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jane M.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Preminger's best effort
I'm a Richard Conte fan, and someone who employs hypnosis, so this should have been just my cup of tea. I found it only mildly interesting. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Trancelucence (Leigh)
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it.
I've been watching Gene Tierney movies lately and thought this one sounded interesting. It was. If you a fan of Gene's you should enjoy this one.
Published 14 months ago by V. Hutson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie
I like Gene Tierney. I also like old movies. I purchased this one though I had never seen it before. I quite it!
Published 15 months ago by Deborah Mckenzie
3.0 out of 5 stars When Far-fetched Plot Meets a Good Cinematographer
Whirlpool is yet another film in this Fox Noir series whose principal assets are visual -- this this case, fine black and white photography, designed sets that are gorgeously... Read more
Published 21 months ago by J. R. Trtek
4.0 out of 5 stars Svengali Redux
It is tough, tough indeed for a smooth, suave, sophisticated if shady guy to make his way in this wicked old world. Just ask David Korvo (played by Jose Ferrer). Read more
Published on August 18, 2012 by Alfred Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Noir
In the 1940's, Otto Preminger directed three notable examples of film noir. Starting with the classic masterpiece LAURA (also starring Gene Tierney) in 1944, then Fallen Angel... Read more
Published on January 10, 2012 by Laurie Perlman
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