Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 3, 2022)
A few years back, a buddy got into an argument with his ex-wife’s boyfriend. This became so heated that the new beau threatened to tear off my pal’s arm and beat him to death with it in front of my friend’s boss.
This always struck me as an odd remark – beyond the psychopathic nature, of course. I guess this nutbag figured my friend would feel fine if he got his arm ripped off and then killed with this appendage… but dear God, not in front of my boss!
Why bring up this anecdote? Because the tag lines for 1950’s The Capture sport similar perplexing logic.
The ads read “Killing a man is one thing – Loving his wife is another!” So said person would be cool with his own death but an affair with this dude’s partner would be a bridge too far?
Weird promotional copy aside, The Capture offered some intrigue as a film noir entry. Add in the presence of noted director John Sturges early in his career and I figured I’d give the flick a look.
Injured and on the run from authorities, Lin Vanner (Lew Ayres) seeks refuge in the home of Father Gomez (Victory Jory). There he tells the story of how he ended up this way.
Lin worked in a Mexican oil field and aided in the apprehension of Sam Tevlin (Edwin Rand) when Tevlin became accused of payroll embezzlement. However, Tevlin dies in police custody, and Lin feels guilt about this.
Matters complicate when Lin visits Tevlin‘s widow Ellen (Teresa Wright). Lin falls in love with her and complications ensue.
Well, yeah – this wouldn’t be much of a thriller if nothing interesting occurred. As it stands, it doesn’t seem like an especially memorable tale even with the twists it involves.
Not that the film flops, as it comes with some appeal. In particular, Ayres functions well as our conflicted protagonist, as he brings some dimensionality to a potentially dull role.
However, Ayres can’t overcome the generally flat nature of the plot, though Capture starts off fairly well. The first act offers some intrigue, as it leads us into Lin’s tale with provocative material.
Once he meets Ellen, though, matters deteriorate and Capture loses momentum. The interplay between guilty party and widow lacks enough drama to make these parts of the film compelling.
Simply put, we get little chemistry between Ayres and Wright. Both boasted talent, of course, but their pairing fails to provide sparks.
Given how much of the film depends on their relationship, this becomes a problem. Once Lin settles into domestic bliss, the movie descends into a dull tone that it never sheds.
I do like the way Capture blends noir and Western, but the film doesn’t live up to its inherent potential. Instead, it just winds up as a slow and not especially dramatic affair, mainly because it doesn’t explore its psychological elements as needed.