Caught (1949 film)

Caught is a 1949 American film noir directed by Max Ophüls, and starring James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Ryan. Caught was based on a novel by Libbie Block.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byMax Ophüls
Produced byWolfgang Reinhardt
Screenplay byArthur Laurents
Based onthe novel Wild Calendar
by Libbie Block
Music byFrederick Hollander
CinematographyLee Garmes
Edited byRobert Parrish
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
February 17, 1949 (New York)[1]
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$776,000[2]


Young model Leonora Eames foolishly and knowingly marries a deranged multimillionaire named Smith Ohlrig. Ohlrig has not married for love. Eames insists several times that she married for love, but the film suggests that she is deluding herself. When Ohlrig becomes too abusive, she leaves him, penniless, to find a job at a medical clinic in a poor neighborhood and eventually falls for Dr. Larry Quinada.

During a one-night reconciliation with Ohlrig, she becomes pregnant. Ohlrig seeks to use the child as leverage to force Leonora to return to him—purely to assert his own power, and not out of any love for her. When he has an attack of angina (the film implies this is psychosomatic), Leonora refuses to help him swallow his medication. Thinking she's caused his death (he actually recovers), she calls Quinada for help and prematurely enters labor. Quinada rushes her to the hospital, but the baby is stillborn. With the baby lost, however, Ohlrig no longer has any leverage over Leonora, and she is now free to divorce him and marry Quinada.



According to MGM records the film earned $511,000 in the US and Canada and $265,000 overseas.[2]


Contemporary reviews were negative, with most criticism going toward the script. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it "a very low-grade dime-store romance, expensively rendered on film".[3] Variety wrote although the performances are topnotch, the story fails to lift it above romantic pulp fiction.[4] Harrison's Reports wrote: "Handsome production values have been wasted on a complicated, unpleasant story that is a curious hodge-podge of romance and psychological melodrama ... It is an odd picture, impressive in many respects and 'corny' in others, but on the whole too contrived and implausible."[5] John McCarten of The New Yorker wrote that while the main cast were all "first rate actors," none of their roles were "worth a moment's envy," because "the script presents us with a full quota of standard Hollywood paper-backed characters, who move around, for the most part, against stage sets about as stimulating as scenes drawn in soap on a barroom mirror."[6]

More recent appraisals have been more positive. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 100% of six surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 8.4/10.[7] In more modern reviews, J. Hoberman of The New York Times wrote, "The filmmaking is brilliant in part because, like Bel Geddes's deceptively modest performance, it is so apparently unassuming."[8] Anthony Lane of The New Yorker called it a masterwork and wrote that Ohlrig is "a barely concealed portrait of Howard Hughes".[9] Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club called it "Ophüls' best non-period film".[10] Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine wrote that it is not as good as Ophüls' later masterpieces, but it "offers a damning portrait of middle-class American society as a large and merciless snare."[11]


  1. "Caught". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  2. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  3. Crowther, Bosley (February 18, 1949). "Caught (1949)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  4. "Review: 'Caught'". Variety. 1949. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  5. "'Caught' with James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Ryan". Harrison's Reports: 31. February 19, 1949.
  6. McCarten, John (February 26, 1949). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker: 69.
  7. "Caught (1949)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  8. Hoberman, J. (July 9, 2014). "Prisons of Gender and a Generation". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  9. Lane, Anthony (June 8, 2002). "Master of Ceremonies". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  10. Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (July 9, 2014). "The underseen masterpiece Caught gets a no-frills release". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  11. Bowen, Chuck (July 2, 2014). "Caught". Slant Magazine. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
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