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Is David Sutton really a cad? ... or does he get a bad rap?


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...played by Van Heflen in Possessed (1947) .

 

He's been raked over the coals for being a very unsavory and self-serving individual, but he's also seen as a decent person who likes to crack jokes and take a few drinks once in awhile and though not perfect is not a monster that some feel is him.

 

My seeming is that if David Sutton is really as bad as some say, the movie might have done a better job of showing it. Is there any wiggle room as to who he is? Is there ambiguity?

 

Cad or not a cad?

 

What say you?

 

==

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he is a homme fatale, serving pretty much the same purpose as Ann Blyth in MILDRED PIERCE: to destroy the protagonist of our piece.

 

he is also a pretty bad judge of distance, as evidenced by his demise in the final scene where he tells Joan " I don't think you're that good a shot"- and she's holding a gun about 3 feet away from his rib cage.

 

I have news for you Van, Ray Charles is that good a shot.

 

I like POSSESSED very much, I even own it on DVD, and have probably seen it in full around a dozen times. However, it's one of those movies that I am fascinated with not because it's so terrific (although it is good), but because it could be so much better than it is.

 

I really wish the director had played up the almost David Lynchian aspects of it, in that our protagonist ( through whose eyes we witness the entire story, ) is not entirely a trustworthy narrator. It would be very fun to see the film play with the audience and have us as uncertain of our bearings as Joan Crawford's Louise is due to her schizophrenia that leads to her hallucinations.

 

It's a fine movie, quite well done and atmospheric, and Crawford is wonderful, but it could have really really been something if they were willing to take some risks with the script and play up the thriller aspects of it, constantly undoing what we the audience are led to believe.

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Maybe cad-adjacent. He seems to go into his affair with Joan's character with a no-strings-attached attitude not knowing that she's looney tunes. However, he does start a relationship with the step daughter with no regard for her feelings. He's very much in love with the kid and I guess he's entitled to happiness but with anyone besides the step daughter. In any other circumstance a decent man would leave the entire family alone, but it's a movie and we all know Joan never gets a happy ending.

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Just a few additions to LornaHansonForbes's fine analysis:

 

He's also a narcississtic [...] to the point of being more interested in architectural plans than her--the 1st time I saw Possessed (1947), I thought Joan whimpered "I'm much nicer than a girdle" at him & I fell on the floor--I thought this was 1 progressive movie for 1947!!

 

Actual line--"I'm much nicer than a girdER--I made certain of the line during a 2nd, 3rd, & 4th viewing!

 

He fools around with married people--a disrespector (sp?) of social boundaries.

 

He laughs off a homicidal woman--BIG mistake, showing dissociation from reality--but doesn't get to live long enough to work out his psychological issues.

 

Most definitely a cad.

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he is a homme fatale, serving pretty much the same purpose as Ann Blyth in MILDRED PIERCE: to destroy the protagonist of our piece.

 

he is also a pretty bad judge of distance, as evidenced by his demise in the final scene where he tells Joan " I don't think you're that good a shot"- and she's holding a gun about 3 feet away from his rib cage.

 

I have news for you Van, Ray Charles is that good a shot.

 

 

I laughed out loud at these comments.  As for David Sutton, I'd say he is a semi-cad.  Not exactly a caring individual in his early relationship with Joan but it seems as though he was reasonably honest with her about this not being a life commitment.  And, of course, he is "redeemed" by his love of Raymond Massey's daughter.

 

Lydecker

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I laughed out loud at these comments.  As for David Sutton, I'd say he is a semi-cad.  Not exactly a caring individual in his early relationship with Joan but it seems as though he was reasonably honest with her about this not being a life commitment.  And, of course, he is "redeemed" by his love of Raymond Massey's daughter.

 

Lydecker

 

I agree; semi-cad.   Yea,  he isn't very caring with Joan but he was up front about that.   Later on in the restaurant scene he does try to avoid sitting with his gal's 'parents' but is pushed into that by the unaware young women.    Van Heflin is good at this type of guy and his character in Strange Love of Martha Ivers is similar, except in that movie his character is able to escape from the situation.   

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Maybe cad-adjacent. He seems to go into his affair with Joan's character with a no-strings-attached attitude not knowing that she's looney tunes. However, he does start a relationship with the step daughter with no regard for her feelings. He's very much in love with the kid and I guess he's entitled to happiness but with anyone besides the step daughter. In any other circumstance a decent man would leave the entire family alone, but it's a movie and we all know Joan never gets a happy ending.

 

Yeah but....

 

There is an exchange between him and Crawford somewhere in the last third of the movie that I think really undercuts the notion he is in love with Carol (the stepdaughter)

 

I paraphrase from memory, but I have seen the film a dozen times, so it's gotta be close:

 

LOUISE

"Stay away from Carol, David."

 

DAVID

"Why? Because she's young?"

 

LOUISE

"Yes..."

 

DAVID

"And rich?"

 

LOUISE

"Yes."

 

DAVID

"Well, we'll see how young she is after a few years married to me. And as for her money: I'll admit that it is an obstacle. But I plan to deal with it by spending it as quickly as possible."

 

(yeah, he's a real prince.)

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two other facts about POSSESSED I'll throw in:

 

1. according to wikipedia, it was the 14th highest grossing film of 1947 with 3.3 million at the box office (BIG numbers back then.)

 

and

 

2. 1947 was a watershed year for Joan in that it saw the release of the last two films she would make opposite BIG NAME costars: DAISY KENYON with Fonda and Dana Andrews, and POSSESSED with Heflin (who was one of the very first, and very few, stars to win a supporting Oscar and turn into a lead performer). After this, she was paired with B-Listers like David Brian, Barry Sullivan, Michael Wilding, and Wendell Corey and up-and-comers like Palance and Cliff Robertson. This is kind of a shame, because as much as I LOVE FLAMINGO ROAD, THE DAMNED DON'T CRY and SUDDEN FEAR!- Joan worked really, really well opposite big names in her first three films she did after winning the Oscar (John Garfield in Humoresque is another example) and it would have been nice to see her playing off a leading man in his prime (of course, after MILDRED, most of her films were 100% JOAN CRAWFORD films, and I'm sure a lot of big names weren't too keen on not being the focus.)

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....and an FYI for those of you intrigued by POSSESSED

 

Tonight at 12:45 am TCM is airing THE HIGH WALL directed by the same director (Curtis Bernhardt) and from the same year. It's another heavily psychological thriller.

 

From the TCM SCHEDULE:

 

D: Curtis Bernhardt. Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter, Herbert Marshall, Dorothy Patrick, H. B. Warner, Warner Anderson. Well-paced thriller in which ex-bomber-pilot-war-hero Taylor thinks he has murdered his two-timing wife and attempts to piece together the facts with the help of psychiatrist Totter.

 

Check it out, I've always wanted to see it (and doubt I will this go-round as I don't have insomnia or a DVR.)

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...played by Van Heflen in Possessed (1947) .

 

He's been raked over the coals for being a very unsavory and self-serving individual, but he's also seen as a decent person who likes to crack jokes and take a few drinks once in awhile and though not perfect is not a monster that some feel is him.

 

My seeming is that if David Sutton is really as bad as some say, the movie might have done a better job of showing it. Is there any wiggle room as to who he is? Is there ambiguity?

 

Cad or not a cad?

 

What say you?

 

==

 

It seems to me his worst sin is not being in love with Joan Crawford and telling her so.

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....and an FYI for those of you intrigued by POSSESSED

 

Tonight at 12:45 am TCM is airing THE HIGH WALL directed by the same director (Curtis Bernhardt) and from the same year. It's another heavily psychological thriller.

 

From the TCM SCHEDULE:

 

D: Curtis Bernhardt. Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter, Herbert Marshall, Dorothy Patrick, H. B. Warner, Warner Anderson. Well-paced thriller in which ex-bomber-pilot-war-hero Taylor thinks he has murdered his two-timing wife and attempts to piece together the facts with the help of psychiatrist Totter.

 

Check it out, I've always wanted to see it (and doubt I will this go-round as I don't have insomnia or a DVR.)

It's really a pretty good film but definitely a low budget affair. It was made at what seems to me a transition in Taylor's career.

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Yes.  David Sutton ("Possessed" 1947) was really a cad.  In fact, he was even worse than a cad.  He was evil, selfish, deceitful, manipulative, and even more disturbed and twisted than Louise Graham.  

 

Another poster cited the scene where David told Louise that he would have to spend Carol's (his new girlfriend - and Louise's stepdaguther) money real fast.    That does suggest that he was a wicked man, and not a good man with honorable or pure intentions.

 

There is even more evidence that David was a cad and a truly conniving and wicked person.

 

- The scene where Louise excuses herself from the concert minutes after Carol invites David to join them in their balcony box, and David walks Louise out.  He had to be evil, to be so spiteful to her with his catty remarks and his tormenting of her.   She tells him to leave her alone and runs off, and in a ridiculing fashion he says "Good night, Mrs. Graham."   Anyone who could derive pleasure from being sadistic this way is evil.    Louise was wrong to kill David, and she was unbalanced.  However, David was hands down much more evil than Louise.

 

- David attending Louise and Dean's wedding uninvited and unannounced.  He didn't love Louise and didn't want her, but he wanted to nose into her life.  That same day, he decided to throw himself at Louise's college student daughter and started trying to romance her.   His motives were not kosher.  What he did right there was low-down and rather despicable.   To call David a pig would be an insult to actual pigs. 

 

- Soon afterwards, when Carol and David started dating each other, David was showing his wicked ways, by rubbing his new relationship with Carol in Louise's face.   Related to what I said a moment ago, he didn't want to give Louise the time of day.  He wanted nothing to do with her, but all the while, and more than once, he rubbed Louise's nose in it.  

That is entirely sick.   Cruel and sadistic.  

 

Near the end of the movie, when David tries to threaten Louise, by saying that he would tell Dean (Louise's husband and Carol's father) about their past affair, I wish that Louise would have done either one of two things: either, a.) respond to David with something to the effect of: "Go ahead and tell Dean about you and me.  Let him know more about yourself.   My husband should know what kind of man his daughter is getting involved with."  or b.) respond to David by saying, in her own words, "Yes, Dean should know about what happened between you and me, and I'M going to tell him the whole truth.  He can deal with you and Carol."  

Either of those scenarios would not have been good for David, because it would mean that Dean would have seen what sort of wicked creature David was.    There would be absolutely no way that Dean would approve of any relationship between his daughter and David.   Dean wouldn't take this lying down - the idea of his wife's ex-lover who broke her heart now pursuing her new husband's daughter.  

The fact is, David was even more sick than Louise.

Dean would be disgusted and livid if he learned sooner about everything that David had done. DEAN might have had a motive to kill David or to want to kill David, or even more of a motive than Louise did.  

Although I like "Possessed (1947)", I think this movie might have been better still if it had gone in this other direction - with some sort of aftermath or repercussions of Dean learning the whole ugly truth about his daughter's boyfriend (his past and his sick games) - even if the aftermath or repercussions did not involve a murder or a death.   I'm actually a little disappointed that the movie ended with Louise murdering David.   In my opinion, having her kill him was a big mistake.  The climax didn't necessarily have to involve death or bloodshed.   Any sort of climax with David exposed and being confronted by both Carol and Dean  - and possibly Louise, too - would have been an added improvement.   

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But aren't we actually seeing this whole story through Louise's prism? Maybe a lot of his cruelty is in her imagination?

 

Those are good questions.   I don't think David's cruelty is in Louise's imagination.  

 

If you think about it, it is plain to see that David was stirring the pot.   Nobody invited him to Louise and Dean's wedding, but he found out about the wedding and he decided to crash the event and insert himself there and mooch on the food and anything else he wished.

It was David who was being spiteful.   It was he who was playing games.    When David turned his back on Louise in the first half of the movie when he rode away in his motorboat, right after she said, "I won't let you abandon me. I'll find a way to keep you with me. I'll lie if I have to, but I'll find a way!   No, I didn't mean it!   Please don't go!", David was free of Louise.  He was far away from her.    He chose to come back to town and to insinuate himself into her life and to dangle himself in front of her.  He didn't want her, but it didn't stop him from hovering near her and doing so repeatedly.  

David was being cruel.   He didn't want Louise, but he apparently didn't want anyone else to have her either.

He didn't care about Louise, but he couldn't stand the thought of her being happy without him and with someone else.

He hurried back to town once he knew that she was marrying another man.   It's obvious that this guy was playing head games.

 

Louise was happy and at peace for the first time in ages when she accepted Dean's marriage proposal.  Dean wanted to marry her still, even after she was upfront with him, letting him know that she was not in love in him.      Both of them laid their cards on the table with each other.   Louise was willing to marry Dean, in order to accept the loyalty and the kindess of a considerate, honest, and rather selfless man, and to put an end to her loneliness and to have finally a man who wanted her and genuinely cared for her.

Louise's happiness and peace were shaken when David returned to town and began to hover near her.   He put the screws to her.

He and Louise weren't even friends after he broke up with her, and he was not willing to be Louise's friend.

All the more reason that he ought not to have gone to his ex-lover's wedding.

There was no good reason for David to be there.  None at all.  None whatsoever.  He was up to no good.

(To me, his behavior matches the profile of someone with narcissistic personality disorder.

I've known at least two people in real life who fit enough of the defining criteria of this psychological disorder.)  

 

On a tangential note, I would love to have seen this film end not only with Carol and Dean learning the truth about David, but for Louise not to have given into her obsession and her desire for revenge, and for her to realize that she had come to truly love Dean.

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But aren't we actually seeing this whole story through Louise's prism? Maybe a lot of his cruelty is in her imagination?

 

Very solid point.   I also believe that often David was just being glib.  Saying thing that he didn't really believe because he found Louise so annoying.     Ok, one could say that it isn't nice to mess with someone that is mentally unstable but David didn't know how unstable Louise was.  

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