“The Locket” qualifies as film noir, but it quietly transcends that genre by its surprising excellence. It purports to tell the story of a sociopathic young woman, cruelly traumatized as a child. The film has a unique flashback structure, unique because one flashback contains two others, yet the plot is always easily followed.
Written by Sheridan Gibney and directed by John Brahm, the film stars Laraine Day as Nancy, the disturbed protagonist, and Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchum, and Gene Raymond as the men in her life. As John (Gene Raymond) and Nancy (Laraine Day) prepare to marry, John is visited by Dr. Harry Blair (Brian Aherne), who asks him how much he knows about the life of his bride-to-be and tells him of his own marriage to her and their life together. Blair is a psychiatrist and as such has a patient, Norman Clyde (Robert Mitchum), who in his sessions tells of his life with Nancy and her actions during that time (the second flashback). There is also a third flashback to Nancy’s early life. As a child, the daughter of one of the maids in a wealthy household, she is accused of stealing a locket. The vicious employer making the accusation is almost pathological and ends her tirade by firing the maid to get rid of the child.
How much of this is true? It all comes from Dr. Blair, and John is insulted at what he sees as an attack by a former boyfriend on the woman he deeply loves. And then we have one startling twist after another to bring the story to a close. Don’t let anyone tell you anything more – just get your hands on this strikingly original film and experience it yourself.