MissG, I also really liked Caught, although the ending was less melodramatic than expected. Although there are noirish elements, it's a woman's picture, with Bel Geddes having to choose between two men. Thanks for pointing out all the character actors--I missed those connections. I agree with all of your points.
Ryan captures the Howard Hughes character. Here's one of the main differences between Smith and Hughes: the real Howard Hughes wasn't attracted to Barbara Bel Geddes. When he became head of RKO, his first two instructions were to paint the building and to fire Bel Geddes. Wonder if Dr. Quinada was originally conceived as Spanish or Portuguese or maybe Puerto Rican? With James Mason he becomes an Englishman. Bel Geddes' thin little voice became somewhat wearing over the course of the film, something I didn't notice in The Long Night, perhaps because it's Fonda who carries that great film.
All three main characters are well-rounded, and Arthur Laurents' screenplay is smart and well-constructed, not bogging us down over the points we don't want to dwell on. Anyone who enjoys good direction should definitely see Caught. The outro, with a very bright man from the legal department, emphasized the two-minute take with Mason and Bel Geddes dancing on a crowded dance floor. There's also a witty effect with Ryan at his psychiatrist's office. Ryan's reclining on a couch, and the shrink is tilted back in his chair, so that it looks like both men are lying on one couch above the other. The low angle when Mason enters Ryan's meeting room makes Mason look like a doll in comparison to the towering Ryan, and a similar effect occurs when Bel Geddes cowers on the steps with a gigantic Ryan standing below. Earlier, when Ryan shows up with his business associates, and he barks his orders to Bel Geddes on the stairs, they are very far apart in a wide angle shot. Ophuls understands spatial relations as well as camera movement.
The intro mentioned that Preston Sturges as well as Hughes was used as the model for Ryan's character. Does anyone know which characteristics were taken from Sturges?