This melodrama gets a bad rap not altogether
deserved, being directed by John Sturges between pictures better remembered
(The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape) and produced by Walter Mirisch, who
knocks it in his memoir, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History.
Sudsy shows get no respect, unlessDoug Sirk directs, the restperishable with spoilage long factored in.
Mirisch tended not to like ones that lost money, By Love Possessed good for
only $1.7 million in domestic rentals, which had to disappoint after better $ got for previous Lana
Turner pics. She actually cedes center stage to accomplished work by Efrem
Zimbalist, Jr., whose showcase this ends up being. Mirisch says that Turner
kept monkeying with the script, so much so that writer Charles Schnee asked to
have his name taken off (the credit reads "John Dennis"). I'd like
knowing what contributions Lana made to dialogue for any of her films, and
that's not sarcastic inquiry. We tend to think stars are too habitually dumb to
do anything other than damagescreenplays --- is that true or mere myth? Guess
it depends on who's applying a blue pencil. By Love Possessed has a New England (as in repressed) setting as with Peyton Place,
seemingly same autumn leaves blowing amongst tortured citizenry. Small-town
hypocrisy has another airing --- when was that formula finally abandoned?
This was penultimate role for Thomas Mitchell; I couldn't tell if it was him or the
character that's palsied to point of barely holding cup and saucer. George
Hamilton contributes another in his line of weakling sons, the part a photo
finish on work done a year before in Home From The Hill. Yvonne Craig is a
liveliest wire as the town trollop. By Love Possessed turns up on TCM and
elsewhere in gratifying 1.85, and is enjoyable for what it is.