Return from the Ashes does not always reach its mark as a thriller. The production, filmed in England, carries the makings of a suspenseful melodrama but in development is early contrived.
The screenplay based on a novel by Hubert Monteilhet builds around a plot for the perfect murder by an unscrupulous Polish chess master married to one woman and in love with her stepdaughter. Set in Paris at the close of Second World War, when the wife, a Jewess, returns from tortured internment in Dachau to find her husband living with the younger woman, plottage concerns the Pole’s passion for money as he does away first with one, then the other femme, to accomplish his goal.
Thompson, who also directs, establishes a tense mood frequently, but level of interest suffers from character fuzziness which occasionally clouds the issue.
Maximilian Schell delivers strongly in a blackhearted role, lending credence to the character through constantly underplaying his scenes. Samantha Eggar displays dramatic aptitude as the amoral stepdaughter, Fabi, whose entry into her bath provides one of the highlights of the film.