Troubled Project That Was Woman On The Beach (1947)
Beach blanket noir, and better received if
you'll allow for its being a mess and far from what writing director Jean
Renoir had in mind. Trouble began, asfor many disfigured classics, with
previews given a razz by inappropriate viewership, "teenagers" in
this case. Were great movies ever put before an ideal test audience? Woman On
The Beach was afterward reshot by half, alarmingly cut to 69 minutes, thrown to wolves of critic indifference, and RKO loss of $610,000. Renoir had
shot the film with much improvisation on a cast's part, he said, and had high
hopes. Star Joan Bennett requested him as Charlton Heston would Orson
Welles for later Touch Of Evil. Do we give actors enough credit for enabling
careers of noted directors?
Bennett was certainly a champion ofdistinguished talent --- Renoir, Fritz Lang, Max Ophuls --- and made
outstanding films with each of them. Negative cost for Woman On The Beach ran
to $1.2 million, which we don't necessarily see on screen, as the whole
thing takes place on and around titular beach. Was there weather-caused delays?
Shooting was done in 1946, but Renoir wrote friends of a "galley
slave" year he spent at virtual remake and heavy edit. He'd end up wishing
the thing had never begun. Val Lewton was involved early on, but let go later. His
supervisor on previous horrors, Jack Gross, received producer credit. Woman On
The Beachwas sold on Joan Bennett's penchant for man-wrecking, her tagline Go Ahead and
Say It, I'm No Good. Trouble was too many thinking a same thing of the film,
though it plays better today in wider context of noir and Renoir'sHollywood output.