Humoresque vs. Deception



Two 1946 melodramas from WB centering around the world of classical music, and starting actresses who would later become rivals: Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. DECEPTION, unfortunately, is a lesser Davis vehicle where neither writer nor director ask her for her best; as a result, while she’s not at her MOST bug-eyed here (that’d probably be IN THIS OUR LIFE), she comes damn close at times. The final scene when the camera lingers unnaturally long on a close up of her face, after a fan declares how happy she must be, is hysterical. Henreid is dull, but it’s always fun to see Claude Rains in a meaty villainous role. HUMORESQUE on the other hand may just be Crawford’s one of Crawford’s best performance, and for me she does more detailed character work as the alcoholic socialite than she did in her Oscar winning MILDRED PIERCE the year before. The script is fabulously witty, Garfield is perfectly capable of carrying the first 30 minutes on his own, and if it gets overwrought near the end, Crawford’s gravitas and outward placidity ground it. Plus, how many movies from this era have climaxes that cut between multiple locations, almost silent aside from the orchestral score? A forgotten gem.