The Locket, a 1946 film noir has intrigued audiences for decades with its intricate narrative. Like several other films in the genre, its story is told largely in flashback — psychiatrist Brian Aherne tries to warn Gene Raymond that the woman he’s about to marry (Laraine Day) is a dangerous psychopath. But in the middle of his story, the film switches to a flashback recounting the memories of her previous husband (Robert Mitchum), who then leads the audience into a flashback told by Day. Few films had tried anything as intricate as a flashback within a flashback within a flashback. At the time, audiences often arrived in the middle of a film and stayed until its later showing to pick up on what they had missed. That was impossible with The Locket, however, a fact contemporary critics were quick to point out. For later audiences, however, the film’s unconventional structure has become one of its most distinctive features, helping it to earn cult status. —TCM
John Brahm (August 17, 1893 – October 13, 1982) was a film and television director possibly best known today for directing a dozen of the original Twilight Zone episodes including the now classic “Time Enough at Last”. His films include The Undying Monster (1942), The Lodger (1944), Hangover Square (1945), the film noir The Locket (1946) with Laraine Day, Robert Mitchum, and Brian Aherne, and the Secret Sharer segment of Face to Face. He also directed the 3D horror film The Mad Magician 1954 with Vincent Price and Mary Murphy.
Brahm was born in Hamburg, Germany. He was the son of German actor Ludwig Brahm and the nephew of European theatrical impresario Otto Brahm.
John started his theatre career as a character actor. After World War I, shuttling between Vienna, Berlin and Paris, he became theatre director and was resident director for acting troupes at Deutsches Theater and the Lessing Theater, both in Berlin.
With the rise of Hitler, he first moved to England… read more
Generally I'm only (or mostly) interested in noir when it exudes some sense of the grotesque and weird. (Kiss Me Deadly and Touch of Evil come to mind.) The Locket, though not as great as those two, achieves this same place--from Day's performance, to the "nested" flashback structure, to the whole wedding day/bridal march sequence (the shot up the veil reminds me of a similar scene in Suicide Club). Pretty great.
Laraine Day's paced revelation of a sociopathic negative Cassandra nearly perfects the femme fatale as she castrates her way through society with the bravado of a true pathos, but the finale unfortunately apologies for her behaviour as much as it absolves her. Overall a remarkable study with an ambitious structure.