Deception, a story of matrimonial lies that builds to a murder climax, gives Bette Davis a potent vehicle. Plot is backed with lavish production, strong playing of a story loaded with femme interest, and bright direction.
Davis plays to the hilt, using full dramatic talent. It’s not all her show, though. Claude Rains as her elderly teacher and sponsor walks off with considerable portion of the picture in a fine display of acting ability. By contrast, Paul Henreid suffers although turning in a smooth performance in a role with not too much color.
Plot [from a play by Louis Verneuil] concerns deception practiced by Davis to prevent husband Henreid from discovering that she had been the mistress of Rains before her marriage. Henreid, refugee cellist, is a jealous man whose temperamental instability is reason for the wife’s deception. Pickup to story comes with Rains’ entrance and his mad jealousy over his desertion by his mistress. To him falls juicy plums in the form of dialog and situations that carry the story along.
Music importance is emphasized by Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score and staging of orchestral numbers by LeRoy Prinz. Korngold’s original music and the Cello Concerto are outstanding highlights.