Possessed displays many ingredients popping in the Hollywood boilers of 1947. First, it’s a Joan Crawford vehicle, one fashioned to remind viewers of Mildred Pierce, which is mentioned in the film’s trailer. Like that hit, the story features problems of tension and jealousy with a (step)daughter, a romance with a shallow cad, and a scene where Crawford brandishes a revolver. Both were impeccable Jerry Wald productions.
Next, it’s a film directed by Curtis Bernhardt, shot by Joseph Valentine, and designed by Anton Grot in a manner emphasizing the dark, expressionist tendencies and uneasy paranoid mood that French critics would call “film noir”. Its expressionist streak extends to the casting of Crawford, whose wide-eyed glances and shoulder twitches are more expressive than natural. At least three prominent uses of subjective camera simulate her character’s vision: when she’s wheeled into a hospital, when she wanders into a house after an apparent ghost (an eerie scene), and when she’s holding a gun. In some shots, she points it at the viewer, as we adopt her prospective victim’s point of view.