Gregory Fitzgerald (Steve Forrest) and Tony Lugacetti (Robert Christopher) are headed from New York to France, where they plan to study in Montmartre and become priests. Tony is seen off at the airport by his large family. Gregory is seen off by his priest, Father Cunningham (Joseph Tomelty).
Gregory tells Father Cunningham that he has doubts and fears about his future. On the plane, he meets beautiful French designer Francesca (Simone Renant). They flirt, and he offers no admission about his impending priesthood. She gives him her address in Paris, hoping he’ll visit her.
After arriving in France, Gregory is heading to dinner to meet with Father du Rocher (Victor Francen) and shares a taxi with Monica Johnson (Anne Baxter), a young American woman who is mixed up with gangsters.
Gregory tries to help Monica, but Father du Rocher assumes that he’s gallivanting around with Francesca, putting Gregory’s future in the priesthood in jeopardy.
Mitchell Leisen directs 1955’s Bedevilled, a crime drama taking place in and filmed in Paris. The film was written by Jo Eisinger.
I expected Bedevilled to focus much more on Gregory’s internal battle between pursuing the priesthood and giving it up for a “normal” life, since his doubts about his decision were expressed so early on in the film. Forrest shows not a bit of turmoil within his character, however, and the script offers very little in that realm either.
Otherwise, Forrest is okay in his role, but Anne Baxter is the film’s best asset. We get a real sense of fear and plenty of emotion from her, much more emotion than any other member of the cast. Baxter really elevates the film with her wonderful performance, and her character brings plenty of excitement and interest that would otherwise be lacking from the film.
Even with Baxter and her character around, I still would have liked to see some exploration of Gregory’s decision, which could have easily been incorporated to fill some of the film’s duller moments.
There are a few positives to the film other than its leading actress, the greatest of which is its gorgeous color photography of Paris. If nothing else, the film is certainly beautiful to look at. There’s a striking rooftop chase scene, too, which I loved.
Bedevilled is a subpar but visually appealing crime drama, worth watching for devotees of the very talented Anne Baxter, or those interested in seeing wonderful location photography of 1950s Paris in vibrant color.
It’s funny: what totally grabbed my attention in your review was ‘American woman mixed up with gangsters’. So how about this for a better story idea: a man on his way to study for the priesthood gets in a cab with a girl on the run from mobsters, who are out to kill her. He decides to help her, and has to do many ‘un-priest-like’ things to keep them both alive. In the end, they both survive, the bad guys are disposed of, and the two live happily ever after.