Loretta Young plays a psychology professor who has quite a few neuroses (this is quite the cliché--for once, I'd like to see a movie with a well-balanced psychologist!). One of her students is a cocky young war vet who thinks he's quite the ladies' man. When a seemingly innocent offer to drive her home becomes an attempt by him to force himself on her sexually, she reacts by striking him repeatedly and killing him. In her vulnerable state, she panics and makes the body appear as if he died by accident. Still in a bit of an emotional fog, she stumbles home. Only later when she is thinking clearly does she realize that she should have gone to the police and reported the attempted rape--but by now it was too late. A problem occurs with the film at this point. Young's character is so flaky that she gets sick and is a delirious state for days. In fact, throughout the film this supposedly capable professor seems on the verge of screaming or crying. When she recovers from her breakdown, the body has been found. Soon, it's ruled an accidental death but a determined homicide detective refuses to give up the case. Now had Ms. Young's character not behaved so strangely throughout the film (remember, she is a trained psychologist and professor), THE ACCUSED would have worked a lot better. Think about it--a film from 1949 that was willing to actually tackle the topic of rape and killing the attacker. But due to the odd characterization, much of the importance and impact is lost. Overall, it's interesting and worth seeing--but also quite flawed.
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A beautiful psychology professor tries to hide a self-defense killing.
December 9, 2021