“I have a feeling this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful hatred.”
Is it me or after Hitchcock made Rebecca in 1940 that so many other “thrillers” during the decade were copied off of it? I put the word thrillers in quotations because no matter how any of those other films were made they could barely compare to Hitchcock’s Rebecca. And their stories of husbands with dead first wives, getting remarried, and then the second finding out he has a dark secret could not even touch Daphne Du Maurier’s story. I do hate the fact that I am comparing other films with the same type of plot to Rebecca since it was such a fantastic film but that is the kind of vibe/thought I got when watching The Two Mrs. Carrolls. Unlike the former film that was truly a thriller in every sense; The Two Mrs. Carrolls was a stinker of epic proportions.
The film starts with Geoffrey Carroll (Humphrey Bogart) on a fishing trip in Scotland. He is sitting near the water drawing with a woman named Sally (Barbara Stanwyck). We assume (or I assumed) that Sally is his wife until she says that they have only been together for two weeks. It begins to rain. Geoffrey gives Sally his jacket to keep her head dry as she runs to shelter under some rocks. A letter falls from the jacket’s pocket addressed to a Mrs. Carroll. Sally is upset. He tells Sally that he meant to tell her but he just likes her so much he could not bring himself to say anything and he did not want to lose her. She runs away from him.
Geoffrey goes back home to London. He has a daughter Beatrice as well as a wife. His wife is in her room not feeling too well. Geoffrey tells his daughter Beatrice that he has decided to send her off to school to be with children her own age. He then brings his wife some milk from the kitchen.
A year later, a man named Charles arrives at a house in the country. It is Geoffrey’s house and he asks if Mrs. Carroll is in. His painting of Death that was modeled on Beatrice’s mother hangs on the wall and Beatrice is sitting on a chair in front of the fireplace. Mrs. Carroll comes downstairs. The Mrs. Carroll who comes down the stairs is Sally. The first Mrs. Carroll had died after being sick. Charles came over to the house to inform Sally that two women from the village, a mother and daughter, plan to stop by to say hello. Sally goes up to Geoffrey in his studio. He feels creatively stuck he has not been able to paint anything in some time. Sally tells them about the mother and daughter coming over to the house. At first he is not excited at the idea but then once he sees the daughter, Cecily, he joins everyone. Turns out Cecily and Geoffrey know each other very well since they flirt with each other when he comes into the village. He is a bit short with her when she asks him to paint her portrait. When Cecily leaves Geoffrey gets a pain in his head and something comes over him. He quickly changes his mind about painting Cecily’s portrait.
I will now give you a quick rundown of the rest of the story: if you guess that Geoffrey started to poison Sally like he did the first wife you are correct. If you also guessed that Sally figures out what her husband is trying to do to her you are also correct. That is my rundown of the rest of the story.
I am actually a bit upset at how poor The Two Mrs. Carrolls was. The number one upsetting things about his film is how badly cast and paired Barbara Stanwyck and Humphrey Bogart were. They both deserved so much better. If they had been in a better film with a better story like if they were in a Pre-Code or their characters were rougher, Stanwyck and Bogart’s pairing would have worked. Sally and Geoffrey were just odd roles for them. Damn the studio system! What a pairing that was wasted on a crap story. Also, as soon as their characters came on screen and they were so sweet and nice I was kind of turned off because Sally and Geoffrey are definitely not the types of characters Stanwyck and Bogart played and were great at. They were too nice at the beginning! The Two Mrs. Carrolls was such a letdown. It was such a bore. The plot was so typical. I hate plots that deal with husbands trying to murder their wives. I do realize that The Two Mrs. Carrolls is not exactly like Rebecca but it is similar. It is almost like the writers wanted to put a twist on the earlier film and it fell completely flat. The Two Mrs. Carrolls is a classic film I say to skip unless you really, really like Barbara Stanwyck or Humphrey Bogart.