Embraceable You (1948)

Eddie Novoc (Dane Clark) is acting as the getaway driver for a killer when he accidentally hits Marie Willens (Geraldine Brooks) while fleeing the scene of the killer’s latest crime, which took the life of a gambler.

Eddie, plagued with guilt, begins visiting Marie in the hospital. He poses as a concerned friend of her brother after being asked by a nurse whether he is her brother.

(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

The trouble? She doesn’t actually have a brother, and detective Matt Hethron knows this. He becomes immediately suspicious of Eddie, but has no evidence to prove Eddie’s guilt.

Unable to pursue the case, Detective Hethron decides that Eddie should care for Marie, who will soon die. The doctors are predicting that she only has one month to live after suffering a blood clot as a result of the crash. She hasn’t been told her fate, though. The doctors and detective Hethron want her to live her final month happily, instructing Eddie to shower her with love and gifts.

But again, there’s trouble. Eddie doesn’t have the resources to pay for Marie’s care… so he has to turn back to crime in order to raise money.

Embraceable You was directed by Felix Jacoves for Warner Bros. The script was written by Edna Anhalt from a story by Aleck Block and Dietrich V. Hannekin.

The opening to this film is a lot of fun to watch. Wildly-angled shots of New York City are accompanied by narration about how the city “can only be felt – sensed – experienced,” rather than being read about or otherwise discovered in a second-hand fashion.

This narration doesn’t have a whole lot of relevance to the rest of the film, which dives into a story of disaster and redemption. A dark and shadowy crime scene (where Marie is eventually struck by the car) is shown while lively but eerie music assaults the senses of the viewer. I really enjoy the use of music in this film, as it matches both the quick pace and the dark tone of the scenes of wrong-doing.

(Image via Laura's Miscellaneous Musings)

(Image via Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings)

Once the crime has been committed, dual storylines snake through the remainder of the film. First, there’s the police pursuit to figure out who killed the gambler and hit Marie. This investigation is juxtaposed alongside scenes of Eddie’s guilt and early visits to Marie. The police put together pretty quickly who was responsible for both crimes, and the stories then shift to a budding romance between Eddie and Marie, and Eddie’s efforts to make enough money to care for her.

These threads are all woven together fairly well. The romance works because Dane Clark’s performance gives off an honest sense of sympathy and guilt, and he has great chemistry with Geraldine Brooks. They make a very sweet pair, and it’s clear that Eddie stays with Marie because he’s come to care for her rather than because he wants to save his own hide.

Both Clark and Brooks give wonderful performances, as do their supports, which include the great character actor S.Z. Sakall.

Embraceable You is not a typical romance, nor is it a typical crime film. It’s a well-crafted and somewhat complex drama with engaging performances and a script that keeps its hooks in the viewer until the end. I really enjoyed watching this film. The score: 4/5

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4 thoughts on “Embraceable You (1948)

  1. Todd Benefiel says:

    This sounds like a neat one…I’ll have to track it down. Especially when I saw it was written by Edna Anhalt, who along with her husband wrote a couple of cool noir films (a style which this film resembles). Interesting title, though, for what you’d think was a full-on crime film!

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