Lucia Clay (Barbara Bel Geddes) is tossing and turning in bed, drenched in sweat, dreaming. A foghorn blows and she turns in bed, saying, “Why did I do that?” leading the audience to believe she just farted. Well, any viewer in the Kevin Smith dick & fart joke generation.
She reflects back to the first time she met Allen Bliss (Michael Rennie). She was dancing with her fiancee John at a high society party. John was angling for an entry into Allen’s business. After meeting Lucia, Allen was angling to get into hers. During a dance, both Allen and Lucia learn their preconceptions were wrong — she was not a money hungry shrew, and he was interested in things more varied and finer than the almighty dollar (remember, this was 1958).
Out on a foggy balcony they discuss the excitement of not knowing the path ahead. He suggests that she should board a ship on her honeymoon and sail and sail until they hit the Fortunate Isles. He wishes he had the strength to tell off all the bankers and do the same. They are having quite the moment until the butler announces a call for him from Mrs. Bliss in Boston. D’oh!
Their paths cross again on another foggy night. It is very thick and people are squinting trying to see — oh no, wait, they’re in Chinatown.
Apparently it is the the Chinese New Year given all the fireworks and paper mache dragon heads. Allen suggests they get their bearings somewhere warm like one of the 200 Chinese Restaurants on the block. Allen is happy to hear that Lucia has called off her engagement to John.
Eight weeks later, Lucia says she must stop seeing Allen. She doesn’t care what people say, but everyone from her parents to the housekeeper is talking about her running around in the fog with a married man. She wants to end it before she really falls in love with him — so apparently she does care. Seeing just the opportunity he has been waiting for — i.e. his last chance — he tells her he is getting a divorce regardless of her answer to his proposal.
Still tossing in bed, she screams out Allen’s name, fearing something awful has happened. Her screams have brought — what? — a nun into her room. She tells Lucia she is not at home, and that there has been an accident. Lucia still screams for Allen, but the nun says she will get a doctor.
Lucia remembers being back in the Chinese restaurant, waiting for Allen. Finally she leaves and finds Allen outside, once again in the fog. His wife won’t give him a divorce. Screw that, he tells Lucia the next day as they are sailing that he has bought two tickets to Canton — the man loves his Chinese food. He’ll leave his wife enough money so that she won’t miss him.
Unfortunately, the fog starts rolling in on them. There is a calm and Allen loses his bearings, not having a compass or sextant or radio or brain. They could row, but have no idea which direction. They are not sure which foghorn they are hearing, but it turns out to be coming from a ship which plows over Allen’s boat like Al Czervik’s over Judge Smails’.
Sadly, Allen was killed. She looks at the Chinese Wishing Ring Allen had just given her the day before and sees her hands are not young and beautiful. They’re pruny, and it ain’t from the water. She looks into a mirror and realizes she has been in a sanitarium for 50 years. And drops dead.
Everyone is entirely adequate. And I must admit I was completely suckered in by her face never being seen except in the flashbacks. It was almost an Eye of the Beholder moment.
But it just didn’t do much for me. I don’t like flashbacks in general, and the rest was a little too melodramatic for my tastes. I can imagine it being the bee’s knees back in 1958, though (two years before the classic TZ episode).
- AHP Deathwatch: No survivors.
- The doctor mentioned she had had no visitors for 50 years. What a family of assholes.
- The passage Allen has her read in the bookstore is from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese.
- Not related to Ray Bradbury’s short story of the same name — one of his more famous short stories, even made into a movie, yet not included in his 100 Most Celebrated Tales Collection that I foolishly bought.