A Woman's Devotion (1956)

Ralph Meeker, Janice Rule, Paul Henreid, Rosenda Monteros,
A newly married American couple vacationing in Mexico is prevented by the police from leaving Acapulco when the husband becomes prime suspect in a local girl's homicide.
  • 5.9 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Robert Hill, Writer:
  • Director:
  • John Bash, Producer:
7 / 10

Love mad

It was interesting to have Paul Henreid, better known as an actor, in the director's chair, with 'A Woman's Devotion' is the second film he directed out of six between 1952 and 1964. Was also looking forward to seeing Ralph Meeker in the lead role, in a type of role that seemed to fit what he was best known for on paper. Really liked the concept for the film as well, with the right execution it could have been a quite tense film that didn't hold back.

Something that 'A Woman's Devotion' mostly was, a quite tense film that doesn't sugarcoat things. Deserving of more credit instead of the practically obscure status it has now. 'A Woman's Devotion' is not perfect by all means (few films are) and doesn't completely live up to its potential, with a few disappointments and a final quarter or so that didn't seem as strong as the rest of the film. Mixed with those disappointments are a lot of good things.

'A Woman's Devotion' could have been stronger. Meeker has been a lot better than he is here and disappoints, the role is one that required tough intensity and unusually Meeker didn't have that in his performance and didn't seem that engaged in the third act.

Which generally could have done with more tension and the ending felt too abrupt.

The rest of the acting is fine though, with Janice Rule, in one of the more difficult parts, having the intensity (as well as the sensuality) that Meeker didn't have. Rosenda Monteros, very close to getting the acting honours at her best, unsettles as Maria. Henreid has the authority of his role just right. He directs with assurance, really letting the atmosphere speak in the first part and personally didn't think it took too long to get to the meat of the story.

It is the middle where 'A Woman's Devotion' is at its best, where the characters (especially Stella) are at their most interesting and investable and where the more mystery aspects are at their most engaging and suspenseful. It's a great looking film, especially the photography, and the music doesn't detract from the atmosphere. The script is lean and intriguing enough at all times and there is a suitably pull no punches approach to the material.

Overall, not a great film but worth tracking down at least. 7/10

7 / 10

A Pleasant Surprise

I had no idea what to expect, especially with two very different titles ("A Woman's Devotion" vs "Battle Shock"), but this film turned out to be quite entertaining. Janice Rule (Estelle) and Rosenda Monteros (Maria) were very good, as was Paul Henreid (the police captain; he also directed this movie).

Filmed in color on location in Mexico, this picture was visually rich and gave a great sense of place. There is a very frank, unglamourous fight between two male characters that is all the better for putting awkward realism over the choreographed look.

The Mexican supporting cast, especially for the characters of Maria and the chief of police, did quite well. Smooth editing and good directing. Only two problems - Ralph Meeker wasn't the best choice for the male lead, and the ending left me wanting a bit of denouement.

Overall, very watchable and enjoyable, and I'd see it again.

7 / 10

Does Ralph Meeker Deserve A Woman's Devotion?

Ralph Meeker is a vet who has headaches, blackouts, and the alarming things that in classic cinema make him an easy target for a suspicious cop. Paul Henreid, the suspicious cop, is ready to toss the guy into a prison cell. Can A WOMAN'S DEVOTION, supplied by Janice Rule, keep Meeker out of a nasty prison in beautiful Acapulco?

This is one of those films that gets called noir -- in this case because the plot, featuring a vet who have gone bad, seems to cry out for black and white photography, bleak cynicism, and gun play amongst the Venetian blinds. But it really does not belong in that category -- partly because the focus of the picture is really on a well acted cat and mouse game between Paul Henreid -- playing a bitter Mexican cop to perfection -- and Janice Rule, who is a devoted wife, but a smart one, determined to get her husband out of the mess that is slowly surrounding him. The other star, one rendered in Republic's Technicolor variant, is Acapulco, which is seedier than what one usually sees in the movies.

The film starts slowly -- because Henreid (the director) is determined to show happiness between Rule and Meeker -- and he is also giving himself time to establish the true sour core of his character. The result is once the mystery elements finally get going, we actually feel for these characters, and that makes the (alas) inevitable end that more powerful.

Yet another scarce film that needs a release, but does not have the obvious hook for it. And the next time TCM does a Paul Henreid retrospective, they need to find this one. His direction draws out the best in his actors (except for Meeker, who misplays his part in the later reels). His own acting seems inspired by being cast a bit against type.