The Accused exploits fear and emotional violence into a high grade melodrama. The screenplay is based on a novel [Be Still, My Love] by June Truesdell and is class scripting. Director William Dieterle, with a solid story foundation and an ace cast upon which to build, marches the melodrama along with a touch that keeps punching continually at audience emotions.
An unbalanced but attractive student is on the make for his professor. By guile he induces her to ride with him to the beach. He attempts to attack her and she, in a moment of surrender to violence, bashes his head in with a tire iron. The crime is concealed to make it look like he had died in a dive over the sea cliff.
Loretta Young’s portrayal of the distraught professor plays strongly for sympathy. It’s an intelligent delineation, gifting the role with life. She gets under the skin in bringing out the mental processes of an intelligent woman who knows she has done wrong but believes that her trail is so covered that murder will never out.