1952’s Lady Possessed featured the distinguished pairing of the elegant James Mason and the always dramatic June Havoc. As veteran performers with such credits as A Star Is Born and Gentleman’s Agreement between them, they naturally imbued the supernatural melodramatics of the story here with an air of earnest believability.
After a traumatic miscarriage, Jean Wilson (Havoc) begins renting a country cottage, due to the insistent recommendation of her husband (Stephen Dunne), in order to recuperate. But rest is the last thing that occurs for our beleaguered heroine when the house’s former mistress begins to take over her personality. Jean is soon tracking down the dead woman’s husband (James Mason), a famous novelty pianist, and integrating herself into his life. A disastrous séance, moodily filmed by directors Roy Kellino and William Spier, a change in her hair color and bouts of sleepless, incredibly erratic behavior ultimately lead to a moodily gothic yet emotionally abrupt climax here.
Produced by Mason and based on a story-script by his wife Pamela, who also sharply enacts Havoc’s sassy best friend Sybil, this project is also notable for providing Havoc with the rare opportunity to play a lead in a film. Always memorable, she was often cast in the Sybil role in her projects, perfecting the art of playing the bright, smart talking companion to a variety of leading ladies including Alice Faye, Dorothy McGuire and Gene Tierney.
Interestingly, years later Mason and Havoc would also be connected through their appearances in two different projects based on Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. Mason, of course, played the mysterious Straker in Tobe Hooper’s popular 1979 television adaptation of the book. Havoc, meanwhile, played the devoted yet bloodsucking Aunt Clara in Larry Cohen’s less successful A Return to Salem’s Lot in 1987.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!