So Evil My Love is a tragic and heartrending film noir that abides by the old movie code where criminals had to pay for their crimes by the end of the film, which makes it a foregone conclusion, and so the film plays out exactly the way all other film noirs of the era do.
A missionary widow takes on a tenant in her house, not realizing he’s a criminal, but she falls in love with him and he turns her into a pawn in a series of crimes that will change her life forever.
After a missionary stint in Jamaica, meek and humble Olivia Harwood (Ann Todd) comes home on a ship with her husband’s body after he passed away from illness. While on the voyage home, she nurses several other sick men, one of whom is a charming fellow named Mark Bellis (Ray Milland). After arriving home in England, Olivia reopens her home for tenants, and she’s surprised and taken aback when Mark shows up looking for a place to stay. Though it might prove scandalous, she agrees to put him up in her house for no money, and very quickly she begins to fall in love with this man. Mark turns out to be a career criminal, and a murderer at that: Everything is a scam and an opportunity for him, and he marks Olivia as his grand study in manipulation. He uses her at every opportunity, and while she’s aware of the things she’s doing that completely compromise her character and morals, she realizes how good she is at breaking the law, going so far as to blackmail and eventually murder for Mark, who continues to tutor her and utterly and completely alter her outlook on life. When she finds herself faced with a moral heartbreak after she kills a man through the actions of another innocent woman, she must evaluate what that would mean for her eternal soul and for the soul of the woman who will be convicted for the crime Olivia is guilty of.
So Evil My Love is a tragic and heartrending film noir that abides by the old movie code where criminals had to pay for their crimes by the end of the film, which makes it a foregone conclusion, and so the film plays out exactly the way all other film noirs of the era do. Evil actions have consequences, and while that sets the film in a Hollywood code mindset, one wonders how the film would play out if it were made today. That’s why movies back then are considered so wholesome by today’s standards, but it is very surprising to see a missionary widow commit terrible crimes on screen. Star Ann Todd really does inhabit her role very well, while Milland is convincing as a cunning charmer with a heart that eventually melts for the woman he ruined From director Lewis Allen.
Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray release of So Evil My Love is presented in a new 2K master, and comes with a new audio commentary by a film historian, plus the original trailer.