Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Beyond the Forest (1949)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Beyond the Forest (1949)

This was a melodramatic, far-fetched, high-camp classic - and also a fine example of film noir from director King Vidor, with an impressive bombastic, Oscar-nominated musical score by Max Steiner.

The film's opening scrolling title card introduced the film's themes: "This is the story of evil. Evil is headstrong - is puffed up. For our soul's sake, it is salutory for us to view it in all its ugly nakedness once in a while. Thus may we know how those who deliver themselves over to it end up like the Scorpion, in a mad frenzy stinging themselves to eternal death."

The film's narrator (Olan Soule) delivered a voice-over as he introduced the empty, mostly deserted small lumber saw-mill town of Loyalton, Wisconsin, where everyone was in the courthouse for the coroner's inquest involving trampy dark-haired Rosa Moline (Bette Davis), the unhappy wife of the town's only doctor, Lewis Moline (Joseph Cotten). She was charged with manslaughter for the 'accidental' death of a man five months earlier. Rosa was introduced as she rose up in court and shouted: "Why should I kill him? Someone tell me that! Why should I want to?"

The film flashbacked to the past (before the murder) to tell about the events that led up to Rosa's murder inquest, the context for her "evil" reputation, and everything that occurred before the murder.

The film opened with Rosa, her husband Dr. Moline, and family friend Moose Lawson (Minor Watson) on a weekend fishing trip. They were housed at Moose's smaller cabin on the grounds of the spacious Latimer Lodge (a luxurious hunting lodge-cabin with 20 rooms and 18 baths) where Moose was the caretaker. Rosa faked an ankle injury to allow her to stay longer, while her doctor-husband had to unexpectedly attend to an emergency - a pregnant patient named Mrs. Sorren (Sarah Selby) back in town. She complained to Moose about her longings for the excitement of big-city life and wealth and the boredom and life in the small-town: "Life in Loyalton is like sitting in a funeral parlor and waiting for the funeral to begin. No, not sitting. Lying in a coffin, and waiting for them to carry you out!"

After Rosa was able to get family friend and lodge caretaker Moose drunk and unconscious that evening, she raced over to the gorgeous main lodge before its owner arrived (by private plane) - wealthy Chicago industrialist/millionaire and tycoon Neil Latimer (David Brian). She had been engaged in an illicit and erotic, yet adulterous love affair with him for about a year. She awaited him lying on her back on a pillow - eager to be pulled up into his arms for a kiss.

Neil Latimer (David Brian)
Rosa Awaiting Latimer's Arrival
Rosa In Latimer's Arms

Rosa implied that her affair with Latimer was ongoing whenever he visited: "Here today and gone tomorrow." Her plan was to escape from Loyalton with him to Chicago, but he deflected her obvious demands to be married to him (even though she was a "married woman") - when he already had the select pick of any Chicago society girl. He rejected her request, although was ready to receive a hard and passionate kiss from her.

Once Rosa and Lewis met up in their home after the weekend, the trampy Rosa exclaimed with the film's most famous line: "What a dump!" (immortal words later imitated by Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)). She despised her life, her home, and her surroundings, and felt out of place everywhere: "I don't want people to like me. Nothing pleases me more than when they don't like me. It means I don't belong."

The next day, Rosa sauntered over to the train station and happened to speak a few words to an unknown disembarking passenger - later revealed as Moose's well-to-do daughter Carol Lawson (Ruth Roman) who was visiting from Chicago. Rosa longingly gazed at Carol's luxurious fur coat and her monogrammed luggage. At the post office, Rosa snidely told Mrs. Sorren who was cradling her newborn and surrounded by her large gaggle of children: "You certainly go in for mass production, don't you?" After a few harsh racist words at home to her slatternly and insolent young Indian maid Jenny (Mexican-American actress Dona Drake): "No red Indian's gonna talk to me like that in my own house," Rosa stood on her outdoor porch in view of the lumber mill factory spewing fire and smoke and prophetically exclaimed: "If I don't get out of here, I'll die. If I don't get out of here, I hope I die. And burn!"

Later, when Moose and Carol arrived at the house with Lewis for dinner, Rosa realized Carol's identity. She had arrived to reestablish her relationship with her estranged father, who had abandoned the family during her childhood. After the evening meal when her do-gooder husband had described his vocation as an old-fashioned family doctor, Rosa looked longingly at Carol's fur coat, caressed its rich softness with her hand and face, and secretly tried it on while viewing herself in a mirror.

Rosa's Dissatisfaction with Life
Rosa on Her Porch: "If I don't get out of here, I'll die."
Rosa with Carol's Fur Coat
Rosa Complaining and Wanting to Go to Chicago to Shop

In the middle of the night, Rosa began complaining to Lewis about their bedroom window (with only a cheap shade) that faced the nearby factory's belching fire and smoke. She again demonstrated how much she despised her middle-class way of life, and demanded that Lewis lend her some money so that she could "get away for awhile" to Chicago - "to buy some decent clothes and have some fun." When he protested, she complained about his practice of not demanding payment of debts by his indigent patients, and agreed to accept a lesser amount of $200 dollars. She went through his Accounts-Receivable book and billed all of his poorest in-debt patients. When he learned that she went behind his back, he threw her recently-collected money at her and angrily threatened: "Here's the money you went begging for. If you take it, don't come back!"

Rosa arrived in Chicago dressed to the hilt in a handmade suit, but was delayed in meeting up with Latimer (he seemed to be avoiding her) until 7:30 pm when he picked her up in his chauffeured limousine in front of her Lakewater Hotel. He broke her the news that he had fallen in love and was recently engaged to a pretty and young society woman. After being rejected, Rosa begged: "I can't go back, Neil! If you turn me down I got nothing left, nothing!" Latimer explained how he had always been upfront with her: "The time we spent together, I wasn't double-crossing anyone. And I didn't break up your home or break up your marriage, so don't pin that on me." As she exited the car, she expressed how she thought she wasn't good enough for him: "And you don't want me, I'm not good enough! You taught me my place, all right."

Rosa was forced to return home to Loyalton, thoroughly discouraged and downtrodden by her dashed hopes to escape. Her husband accepted her back, and was soon told the unexpected news: "I'm going to have a baby." During a birthday and dinner party for Moose (hosted by his daughter Carol) at the Latimer Lodge, Latimer was in attendance and in private revealed to Rosa that he had broken off his engagement and wanted her to come with him to Chicago and marry him. She immediately agreed to the plan.

The next day before an early-morning hunting party, Latimer whispered to Rosa that she should prepare to leave with him in about an hour to fly back to Chicago. Moose was aware of Rosa's ongoing affair and threatened to reveal her pregnancy to Latimer if she left her husband. To silence him shortly later, Rosa shot Moose dead - in order to further her plan to escape her marriage and her despised town.

Moose in Rosa's Targeted Binocular-Sights
Rosa's Deadly Shot
Rosa at the Inquest For Moose's Murder

The flashback ended, and five months later during Rosa's inquest, she claimed the shooting death was accidental, and was ultimately found not guilty of manslaughter. Latimer proposed that their plan to marry needed to be postponed for at least a month or two, although Rosa was already scheming to end her pregnancy and escape as soon as possible. She confessed to her husband two damaging admissions about herself - in order to convince him to end her pregnancy: (1) her long ongoing affair with Latimer, and (2) her premeditated, non-accidental murder of Moose. He adamantly refused to accede to her wishes: "I don't want to hear any more! All I care about is my baby and you're going to go through with it....You can go where you please and you can do what you like! After you've had the baby!" Behind the stairway railing looking imprisoned, Rosa vowed: "I'll kill myself first!"

Lewis followed Rosa (who was disguised in her maid's clothes) to a neighboring town to seek a medical abortion (from an attorney!?), and drove her back home. During the return trip, Rosa asked Lewis to stop the car - and then she threw herself down a steep hillside into a ravine to cause an injury and a miscarriage (a self-induced abortion) of her unwanted pregnancy.

Rosa Driven Home After Attempting to Get an Abortion
Rosa's Jump Down a Steep Ravine
Rosa Impatient About Her Slow Recovery After a Miscarriage

She was impatient (about going to Chicago) even though she was very sick, and accused Lewis of causing her serious illness and a high fever - evidence of blood poisoning (or peritonitis) - to cause a delay in her departure. She deliberately broke her medicine bottle, forcing Lewis to drive to the nearby hospital to obtain more medicine for her.

Meanwhile, Rosa dragged herself from her bed, and in a half-crazed, fever-induced madness, she frantically and hysterically attempted to dress up to escape from her environment, with help from Jenny. Before her bedroom mirror, she smeared herself with lipstick and mascara - and viewed her grotesque image in a mirror - before adjusting her disheveled clothing, feebly descending the stairs, and leaving the house for the nearby train station.

In a memorable death sequence, as the Chicago train pulled away, it revealed that Rosa had fallen and collapsed and died in the roadway as she neared the boarding platform of the train station. Lewis (who had been alerted by a phone call from Jenny) arrived to find her deceased body in his car's headlights - as the camera pulled up and away.

Rosa Moline (Bette Davis) - In the Inquest Courtroom

Rosa on Fishing Trip with Husband Lewis to Latimer Lodge

Rosa Complaining About Life in Loyalton

Rosa with Husband Dr. Lewis Moline in Her House: "What a dump!"

Rosa Swaggering Into Town to the Train Station

Carol Lawson (Ruth Roman) - Moose's Well-to-Do Daughter From Chicago

Rosa's Slatternly Young Maid-Servant Jenny (Dona Drake)

Rosa with Latimer in Chicago - Rejected Because He Was Engaged

Breaking the News of Her Unexpected Pregnancy to Her Husband

Latimer's Change of Heart - "It's you and me now, Rosa. That's the way it's gonna be"

Rosa's Two Damaging Confessions to Her Husband

Rosa Feverish and Delusional Due to Her Miscarriage

Rosa Smearing on Mascara and Lipstick

Rosa's Death Before Reaching the 10 O'Clock Train to Chicago


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