Reviewed by DAN STUMPF:         

MITCHELL WILSON – None So Blind. Simon & Schuster/Inner Sanctum Mystery, hardcover, 1945. Hillman #182, paperback, 1960. Film: RKO, 1947, as The Woman on the Beach.

THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH. RKO, 1947. Joan Bennett, Robert Ryan, Charles Bickford. Based on the book None So Blind by Mitchell Wilson. Director: Jean Renoir.

   Ever wonder why some books even get made into movies? The question crossed my mind when I read None So Blind by Mitchell Wilson. It starts out as a moody and intriguing thing about a shell-shocked Naval Officer running a shore patrol station and trying to get his head together, as they say, who gets mixed up with a mysterious lady painter and her blind (or is he?) abusive husband.

   The ensuing story flirts with violence like a floozie in a Biker Bar, and it’s a pretty fine read… till the author writes himself into a corner, and their attempts to get out turn pretty sloppy; downright embarrassing, in fact.

   The closer I got to the end, the sorrier I felt for these poor schlemiels, as what could have been a nifty tale of murder for love turned to mush before my eyes.

   So for some reason, RKO decided to film this in 1947 as Woman on the Beach, and it suffers in the end game, too, but not quite so badly. The way it looks, when Director Jean Renoir saw there was no way to kill the story, he just quit shooting the damthing and went back to France.

   Beach ends without resolving the plot or consummating the Murder that looks to be bubbling just off-screen, but along the way there are some wondrous visuals of horses galloping across the gothic seacoast, desperate trysts in derelict shipwrecks, and fine performances from Joan Bennett, Charles Bickford, and especially Robert Ryan as the neurotic sailor.

      It’s no masterpiece, but off-beat and intriguing enough to make it worth your time.