The film begins with Pauline (Carol Ohmart) and Marshall (Tom Tryon) spending the evening together in a parked car sharing intimate moments and general conversations. The two are conscious of other cars driving by as they are meeting secretly. As the night progresses, three men arrive nearby and have a brief discussion which both Pauline and Marshall overhear. The men discuss an upcoming heist at a nearby mansion, hoping they will walk away with various necklaces and jewels. Staying hidden until the men eventually leave, Pauline and Marshall then go their separate ways.
When Pauline returns home, we learn she is married to a man named Ralph (James Gregory) and is extremely unhappy, hence her secret relationship with Marshall. While Pauline may have everything she could ever need financially, she desperately wants out of her marriage for many reasons, including the fact that Ralph has become more controlling and abusive over time. In Pauline’s eyes, Marshall is the perfect gentleman; however, he lacks wealth, and Pauline refuses to live a poor life. Wanting to run away with Marshall but retain wealth, she encourages and manipulates Marshall into doing the heist they recently overheard about. Marshall agrees but is extremely careful, not wanting their relationship to be discovered or get arrested for the heist. But as Pauline and Marshall prepare, they’ll soon discover that the task won’t be as easy as they thought, and both get a few surprises along the way.
The Scarlet Hour is best described as a drama along with intense moments of thrill and mystery. Directed by Michael Curtiz, best known for hit films such as Casablanca (1942) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), the film begins with a small outline but becomes something far greater as the story progresses. There are many big reveals and surprises (aka twists and turns), which keep the plot exciting and viewers guessing the final outcome. Most big reveals were unpredictable and surprising, especially during the final moments. I admired the creative shots that built moments of tension, almost feeling like a classic Hitchcock film. The stunning and clever use of lighting works wonderfully in various scenes and situations, adding suspicion, tension, and suspense.
We know that the characters Pauline and Marshall both come from different worlds and upbringings but share one main passion- each other. At the outset of the film, it’s obvious that they would do anything for each other, as well as anything to escape and be free. Performances are incredibly strong here, especially from Carol Ohmart, who carries such a fun range of emotions and passionate desires. From being miserable in a controlling marriage, she becomes demanding, controlling, and sometimes even suspicious of Marshall’s activities as she questions his faithfulness.
Overall, I had a wonderful time with this film as it successfully combines drama and thriller. The story begins with a small outline, which only grows into something far greater than I expected. I enjoyed all the twists and turns along the way, all of which were highly unexpected. Performances are great, including the leading actress Carol Ohmart who delivers a wide range of emotion and suspicion. Director Michael Curtiz has once again shone, and his creativity is all over this film, capturing moments of drama wonderfully and using creative elements such as lighting with perfection.