I do think you are confused, Mrs. Bowman.
What are you trying to do to me?!
So as you can read on the film poster/DVD cover, this is not a horror film but a film noir. However, it actually has some elements that are similar to Horror, as film noir usually does, and it actually takes place on Halloween. That being said, I just knew I had to review it.
I got this film on my 20th Century Fox Four Film Noir Box Set. Included with Dangerous Crossing was Laura, of which I reviewed last year. And I have to say, it is just as good. This film was based on the play Cabin B-13 by John Dickson Carr.
Ruth Stanton (Jeanne Crain) is waiting on the boat dock, getting ready to board a cruise ship. She is soon joined by her husband, John Bowman. They have just gotten married and are ready to go on their honeymoon.
As they board the ship, John keeps walking, but Ruth’s beautiful, heavy, fur coat gets stuck on the stair, and an officer has to help her.
She catches up to her husband, and he takes her to room B-16.
There they are interrupted by a stewardess who is setting up the room, arranging the flowers. After she leaves the two talk about their courtship. Who would have thought that four weeks of dating would have lead to an elopement, and now they are going on their honeymoon! After all-
So after making plans to meet up at a certain bar aboard ship, John needs to go to the purser to drop off some cash, and Ruth heads up to the deck to watch the boat go off. There she starts waving to people, just happy and excited.
The woman next to her intriduces herself as Kay Prentiss, on the cruise ship after her latest divorce and looking for fun. She asks Ruth if she is married, and when she says she is, Kay warns her not to leave her husband unattended.
Kay Prentiss: You musn’t let him out of you sight. Husbands can get lost so easily.
Kay asks her who she is waving good-bye to, and Ruth says nobody. She’s just getting into the spirit of things. Kay thinks it a bit odd, but just let’s it go.
We then switch to see the captain and the doctor, Dr. Paul Manning. Dr. Manning is played by the very handsome Michael Rennie.
I have yet to review his amazing film The Day the Earth Stood Still, but soon. One day soon.
Anyways, the captain and doctor met and discuss how everything is. It all seems to be in tip-top shape except for one bout of seasickness, and an officer, Jack Barlowe, coming down with some kind of stomach ailment. He has just returned from his shoreside leave, so the captain thinks it came from too much fun and not enough regulation.
Ruth has now headed to the bar, but she can’t find her husband anywhere. So she waits, and waits.
After growing tired of waiting, she decides to head back to the purser’s office to see where her husband might have gone. When she gets there, she discovers that there is no record of a John Bowman ever coming to the purser’s office.
Seeing that as strange, Ruth decides to head back to the room, but she can’t get in as the door as it is locked and she doesn’t have a key. So she heads back to the bar, running into Kay Prentiss again, but no husband. She searches everywhere, but cannot find him at all.
She goes to the steward and introduces herself as Mrs. Bowman, then asking him to open B-16. He tells her there must be a mistake, that room was not given to anyone this trip.
But Ruth is adamant! This is her room open it up now! The steward does, but all her things are gone and there is no sign that anyone could have been in there.
The steward goes to get the list to double check, as there could be a mistake. While he is gone, Ruth searches the whole room, trying to find proof that she was here. But nothing. No clothes, flowers, suitcases–not even the hairpins she took out of her hair and placed on in the dresser drawer. Nothing!!
The steward comes back and tells her, there is no room listed under the name Bowman.
They ask for another name, and she givers them her maiden name. They check and there is a room reserved for a Ms. Ruth Stanton. But it is B-18, not B-16. When they get to the room, they find her luggage, but nothing of her husband.
So now the steward thinks she is crazy as she is still saying that room B-16 was the one she was in and that her husband, John Bowman is missing.
Steward: I do think you are confused, Mrs. Bowman.
Ruth Stanton-Bowman: What are you trying to do to me?!
Now the question us as a viewer have to ask is, is she crazy?
On one hand, we saw John Bowman and her talking together! And they were clearly in the room together-I mean the stewardess did see him! On the other hand, could it be in her mind? Could she have made up a husband like John Nash created a roommate in A Beautiful Mind? It’s too early to tell, but it is definitely something to contemplate.
They call for Dr. Manning as Ruth is starting to get hysterical. Ruth doesn’t want the doctor, but then a man she saw early with a heavy German or Austrian accent comes down the way, frightening her and causing her to faint.
Now we haven’t seen this man do anything, but he looks like the sort of villain from a spy novel or film. So he does look a bit suspicious.
Dr. Manning tries to get to the bottom of it, first trying to see if there is such a man as John Bowman, even though there is no record of him. Ruth tells him about the officer and the stewardess who both saw him, so they send for them.
The officer, Mr. Logan, comes but it turns out he is no help at all. He remembers her pretty face and that she got caught on the stair rail, but he doesn’t remember her being with any man.
But there is still the stewardess. When they ask her she tells them no.
That there was no one in B-16. It hasn’t been reserved this trip.
Ruth is extremely confused and upset. Why is everyone lying to her? Where is John? Why is this happening!!!!
“Ruth Stanton-Bowman: [Near tears] Everyone thinks I am lying!
Dr. Paul Manning: I reserve judgement until I have all the facts.”
Thank you Dr. Manning, you are a real dream.
Dr. Manning and Ruth go to the captain and request a full search of the entire ship for a John Bowman. The captain then asks for her passport and marriage certificate.
Turns out she doesn’t have them. John was in charge of the trip and had them in his possession.
They then ask her where she got married, but Ruth doesn’t know the answer to that either. It turns out it was spur if the moment and they stopped at a little chapel somewhere in Maryland.
Ruth can see they find her story fishy and becomes extremely upset and hysterical. They send her to her cabin to rest.
The captain and Doctor talk it over.
The captain thinks Ruth is certifiable and nothing she says is the truth. Dr. Manning thinks that there might be more than meets the eye and asks that they send out for more info on her.
That night Ruth is in her room, when the phone rings.
It’s John! He tells her he has to hide as he is in terrible danger. So is she, so she should be careful and trust NO ONE! Ruth questions him, but they are cut off before she can get more information.
She quickly calls the operator and tries to find out which room dialed hers, but the operator says that no calls were put through to her.
The operator says that it could have been dialed (I’m not sure what that means exactly) of which if it was, she has no way to trace such a call.
So we are asked to question once again, is she crazy? Did John really call, dialing so it was untraceable, as someone is after him? Or is it all in her mind?
Ruth throws on a robe and her fur coat, planning to go outside but running straight into Kay. It turns out that Kay was worried about her, seeing her frantic earlier, and noticed she never came down for dinner. She brought her some broth.
It seems like a nice thing to do, but after that phone call from John, Ruth is SUPER paranoid!
She knocks the cup of broth down on “accident”. Kay understands that she may be tense, and tries to help by unpacking Ruth’s clothes. But is she really trying to help her? Or is she one of those people “in on it”, one that John was warning her about?
The phone rings and Ruth lunges for it, hoping for John. But it is only Dr. Manning. Kay leaves, and so does Ruth, as she goes to Dr. Manning. He tells her that they have found no trace of a Mr. Bowman anywhere.
“Ruth Stanton-Bowman: YOU ARE WRONG! My husband IS aboard this ship!
Dr. Paul Manning: Everyone aboard has been accounted for. He is not here.”
Dr. Manning questions her about John, but it turns out she knows very little about her husband. After all they were only together for four weeks. Dr. Manning breaks up the meeting and tells her they will reconvene in the morning. He tries to walk her to her cabin, but she refuses. Instead of going to the cabin, she starts looking around.
She finds a phone outside, near where the foghorn was; clearly where John made the call. She looks around when she notices someone is following her.
She tries to hide, but he finds her.
IT’S THE DOCTOR!!!!!
“Ruth Stanton-Bowman: What are you doing up here?!!!
Dr. Paul Manning: What are you doing? I was following you.”
Ruth starts thinking that maybe Dr. Manning is in on whatever this is. She decides to pretend to be following his advice as she doesn’t want him to suspect that she knows.
Dr. Manning takes her to the bar to talk. He wants to know everything about her, trying to figure out what the real story is. She tells him that she was raised as an only child, just her and her father as her mother died when she was very young. He died four months ago and she suffered extremely from the grief. So bad was her grief, she had to be placed under a doctor’s care. Dr. Manning asks more questions, but then Ruth becomes very vague. Clearly there is more she is not telling.
He implies that maybe John is imaginary, created because she doesn’t want to be alone after the death of her father. This enrages Ruth who yells at him that John is real!
She then remembers where she is. Ruth needs to be careful, she can’t have them questioning her sanity. She apologizes and the Doctor takes her to her cabin, saying all the medicine she needs is that of a few normal activities to get everything right.
That night when Ruth is sleeping, she is rudely awakened by some kind of banging noise. She throws on a robe, but when she opens the door, no one is there.
She then notices B-16 is open.
Before she can step inside, it slams shut. Ruth begins banging on it, but stops when she notices the steward watching her. She quickly runs into her cabin.
Meanwhile, the captain and good doctor are discussing what to do.
The captain is all for locking her in her cabin as he is sure she is crazy, but the Doctor feels they are missing something. He has them write missing persons in New York for information on John Bowman. The Captain agrees to let the Doctor do what he wants with Mrs. Bowman, as long as he keeps her in check.
The next day, the Doctor comes for her and asks what she wishes to do. She wants a tour, and as they go on it she secretly looks everywhere for John. After the tour she and the Doctor spend a lot of time together, playing shuffleboard, frisbee, he even saves her from falling overboard. At first it was a ploy, but now both seem to be enjoying each other’s company.
The next day Ruth is at the pool when Dr. Manning approaches her. Ruth is still reserved around Dr. Manning, wanting to like and trust him but still unsure. She begins questioning him and trying to find out more on his backstory. Yes what is his backstory?
So why would Dr. Manning choose to be on a ship? Well he’s not hiding from anyone. He’s not married (yay). He just likes the power and responsibility for caring for 1400 people.
“Dr. Manning: [Notices Ruth has stopped smiling] What’s wrong?
Ruth Stanton Bowman: It just occurred to me, I don’t really know my own husband. It all moved so fast…we were supposed to be getting on this trip. Instead I’m getting acquainted with…[looks at Dr. Manning]”
Ruth leaves to go change, just as Kay comes over. When Ruth has left, Kay confides in Dr. Manning that Ruth was waving to nobody at the dock when the ship left. Both think this is really strange, but why? I mean I think it is normal, to go along with it because everyone is doing it and because it is just part of the experience. I know my sister and I did it when we went on a cruise. I guess that means we are both crazy too.
Anyways, later that day Ruth is headed to her cabin when she hears somethiung in B-16.
She goes to look and finds Kay, Mr. Logan, and the stewardess. They all say they are trying to help, looking for any thing to back up Ruth’s story…but are they? Are they really trying to help her? Or are they just trying to make her crazy?
That night is Halloween, and they are setting up for the party.
Ruth is pacing in her room waiting for John to call. Finally the phone rings!!
But it is just Dr. Manning seeing if she is ready. She asks for a few more minutes, still waiting for John’s call, when that stewardess from before comes in. She tells her she needs to talk to her about her husband.
Maybe she knows something about John!! Maybe she is on his side and helping him?!!!
The stewardess tells her she just wants to apologize for not being able to help.
Thanks a lot for getting my hopes up. You suck.
Ruth is upset and leaves. After she is gone the stewardess picks up the phone and calls someone, telling them that everything is going according to plan, they think Ruth is crazy just as we planned.
Then Ruth isn’t crazy and someone really is behind it. But who is the stewardess’ partner? Dr. Manning? Kay? Mr. Logan? The Captain? The Steward? The German man? John Bowman?
She goes to dinner when she sees John from behind!
But she turns out to be wrong as it is someone else, who only looks like John from behind.
She goes to her table she is sharing with Dr. Manning. They sit down for dinner, when he is suddenly called away by the Captain. It turns out the Captain has finally received that information about Ruth. Her father owned a huge corporation in Philadelphia and they are extremely rich. Mr. Stanton died four months ago, and after he died Ruth was put under a doctor’s care. Neither the doctor or the housekeeper have ever heard of a John Bowman.
So Dr. Manning thinks she just had a collapse after losing her father and that the husband does not exist. The doctor wants her locked up, but Dr. Manning refuses saying she isn’t dangerous. The Captain agrees to listen, for now. BUT, if she should act out again, then she must remain in her cabin for the duration of the trip.
Dr. Manning goes to finish dinner with Ruth. After dinner, he takes her to his office and shows her the radiogram, questioning her and wanting the truth. When Ruth reads the radiogram, she becomes hysterical, in such a fit that Dr. Manning has to slap her to get her out of it.
She tells him no one knows of her marriage, she kept him and the whole thing quiet. The only thing she has been lying about was that she has been feeling fine, when in reality the whole time they have been doing “normal activities” she has been searching for her husband. She only lied because she is afraid everyone will think she is crazy and lock her up.
She seems so earnest, and believes it so, that Dr. Manning asks her is there is anyone who may wish her or her husband to be dead.
“Ruth Stanton Bowman: The man I hardly know.”
Ruth then tells Dr. Manning abut her father’s half-brother. He was always up to no good and getting into trouble, her dad had to save him again and again. He sold his share of the company to Ruth’s father, taking his money now and wasting it. He wanted more, but Mr. Stanton refused, and to make his half-brother even angrier, Mr. Stanton told him he left everything to Ruth. Ruth has never met the man, but overheard the two fighting. Four days later, Mr. Stanton died. Dr. Manning asks how many know about this, and she replies only her and John. Dr. Manning starts thinking about this. He sends her to her cabin to sleep.
When Ruth gets to her cabin, she gets a call from John!!!!
He tells her to met him at the boat deck immediately, but to be careful to not be seen.
Ruth runs to get there and starts asking John a thousand questions. What is going on? Why are you hiding? John can’t stay as he hears someone, and tell her to meet him at 2:00 am. He then runs off.
Something is not quite right with her husband. It seems a bit fishy to me.
Anyways, Ruth wants to chase after him, but can’t as it is too foggy and Dr. Manning, the steward, and another officer are right behind her. She runs trying to shake them off, heading to the party, and sweeping Mr. Logan onto the dance floor. Unfortunately, the men stake off the exits and when she tries to leave they get her. She starts screaming.
They take her away, and lock her in her cabin.
Later, Dr. Manning is going to check on that officer suffering from stomach pains. He can’t quite figure out what is wrong with him. When he gets there, this is the first time we see the officer’s face and it turns out that 3rd Officer Jack Barlowe is actually John Bowman.
What a scoundrel!
He asks the Doctor what is going on, as he heard screaming, and learns that Mrs. Bowman was causing a disturbance. She no longer will be as she is going to be locked in her cabin. The doctor leaves a sedative behind, and as soon as he is gone, instead of taking the medicine as he is only pretending to be sick, John/Jack calls the stewardess from Ruth’s floor.
He tells her they need to take care of Ruth tonight. Her being locked up will make the plan impossible, so the stewardess needs to get in there and find a way to let her out, but making sure that Ruth thinks it is her idea. The stewardess agrees and leaves to put the plan in motion.
Back at the cabin, Ruth wakens and calls Dr. Manning. He doesn’t come, but the nurse does who gives her a sedative. Not too long after, the stewardess comes to “help” Ruth, fetching her a glass of water. Now that sedative or whatever injection they gave her is still affecting Ruth. She is walking slow and not thinking one hundred percent clearly or she would have realized the stewardess is taking a looooooong time for a glass of water.
So Ruth gets out and takes off for the deck. The stewardess calls John/Jack and tells him everything is a go. He leaves for the deck as well.
Right after she finishes with Jack/John, Dr. Manning comes charging in. The stewardess pretends she was just about to call, as Ruth escapes, but Dr. Manning takes off to find Ruth. After he leaves, the stewardess tries to call Jack/John to tell him the doctor is on the way, but it is too late. He is gone already. Just goes to show you that you can never plan the perfect crime, too many things can go wrong.
Ruth reaches John/Jack and expects to finally get her answers, and she does. Just not how she was expecting. It turns out that John/Jack is her uncle, her father’s half-brother. He concocted this whole plan to marry her (an invalid marriage as it is not his real name), take her on the ship and make her look crazy, murder her, and toss her overboard; inheriting everything.
He begins chocking her, when Dr. Manning comes in, knocking a very frightened Ruth out of the way.
The two men fight, with John/Jack accidentally getting caught in some rope and falling overboard.
In the end, the stewardess reveals everything, they discover Ruth’s passport and marriage certificate in John/Jack’s real room, and the captain apologizes. Ruth is mad at herself and doesn’t know what to do, when Dr. Manning cheers her up with the promise of better tomorrows.
Oh yes Dr. Manning, I’m sure you will be making sure her tomorrows are much better.
I know I may have said it in the past how you cannot trust the doctor in a horror/mystery/suspense film. They always are evil, create monsters, unleash things, etc. Now there is an exception, this movie! This is the only film I can think of where there were doctor didn’t do any of those things, but was actually trying to help. But they usually they are evil, so I recommend staying far, far away from them. At least you should, if you live in a horror film.
To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It Has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
For the previous post, go to The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
For more film-noir, go to Murder is My Favorite Crime: Laura (1944)
For more films based on plays, go to The Perfect Murder: Dial “M” for Murder (1954)