Conflict (1945)

Conflict (1945), directed by Curtis Bernhardt.

Humphrey Bogart has fallen in love with his wife's sister and decides to kill the current Mrs (starting a trend he continues in The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947), also with Alexis Smith). After he makes her vanish strange things begin to happen: she seems to be lurking just out of sight and leaving clues. Is she not dead? A ghost? Is he cracking up, or is someone playing elaborate tricks on him? (Sounds a lot like the later film, Diabolique (1955), doesn't it?)

This is a minor thriller but has a nice dark tone and intimations of insanity and suppressed desires. Sydney Greenstreet is an affable shrink who keeps dropping suggestive hints to trouble a guilty conscience. The plot mechanics are beyond improbable, but we try not to worry about such things.

My earliest memory of a scene from a movie is from this film. I was 4 or 5 years old, up late in a pitch black room with a boxy black-and-white TV set, fighting to stay awake. I remember the final scene where Bogart comes down the slope on a foggy night, using a flashlight to inspect the wrecked car, looking to see if a dead woman is still inside. She isn't.

Warner Archive title, available for rent from ClassicFlix.