Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
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According to cinematographer Lee Garmes, "I directed about 60-70 per cent of the picture; we'd start at 9:00 a.m. and some days Hecht [Ben Hecht] was there, some days MacArthur [Charles MacArthur]; they'd start working on the picture at eleven a.m.! So they relied on me. They set the style of how they wanted the dialogue done, and I would direct the whole physical side of it." See more »
This is an unusual and surreal little film, starting from the beginning. The prologue says that the three furies go about the world enticing people to do evil. Then a shadowed figure of a man shoots a woman in cold blood and out of the droplets of the blood come the three furies, looking and laughing like female demons racing into the night.
Then we are in criminal attorney Lee Gentry's (Claude Rains) office. He is mentioning to his legal secretary how he wants to get rid of his current girlfriend, Carmen Brown, a cabaret dancer (Margo), but that instead of that he wound up in a flurry of kisses and vows with her, once again. He wants to dump her for the ice queen, Katy, who does not seem nearly as enthused about him as he is about her. Basically Gentry delivers a monologue about how he just can't resist figuring out what makes the women in his life tick, getting them head over heels in love with him, and then their adoration repels him and causes him to reject them. You get the feeling that maybe Gentry has a 50ish legal secretary exactly because he does not want his bad personal romantic habits to follow him into the office.
In the next scenes Gentry gets everybody on his bad side, the prosecutor, the police, he even sets up a situation to make it look like he feels Carmen has been unfaithful and that is why he is leaving her, making her feel their breakup is her own fault. Up to now everything Gentry has done is because he thinks he is better than everybody else, smarter, that he can take what he wants and not care for other people's feelings. And then he performs one unselfish act and it turns into what could be construed as murder. The police and prosecutors are certainly not going to go easy on him or believe him after he has made fools of them in court on a regular basis. So he sets out to make it look like he could not have committed the murder. His legal mind constructs an intricate alibi, even setting up an alternate fall guy for the murder.
How does this all pan out? Watch and find out. The ending is like a cross between something Robert Serling and Alfred Hitchcock would come up with. Highly recommended. This practically one man show will hold your interest throughout partly due to Ben Hecht's talented writing and direction, and partly due to Rains' outstanding performance.
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