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Frederick De Cordova
Jury foreman Edward Weldon's questioning leads to the death sentence for Ethel Saxon. His daughter Stella claims to have killed her lover, the gangster Gar Boni, just as Saxon was to sit in the electric chair. Written by
You see, I loved him. I mean I loved him when... when he didn't love me anymore, day in and day out watching him get further and further away from me. I could see in his eyes when he looked at me... I could see he hated me, hated me because I needed him. Oh, I was so frightened, so mixed up. It's so horrible to see someone who's become part of you slipping away, slowly. To feel helpless and empty, lonely and frantic, wanting to do something, anything, anything to bring him back! To...
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This film was originally called "Midnight." In a noir set that I have, it's titled "Call it Murder" and Humphrey Bogart is top-billed. Originally he was listed as 8th in the cast, as he really doesn't have that much to do. It's of interest because of his presence - he plays a criminal, but he's a young leading man here - but otherwise, there isn't much to recommend it.
Why this is in a film noir set is beyond me. It's a melodrama (based on a play) that moves like an iceberg. The acting is stilted, as is the dialogue. The plot centers around a jury foreman (O.P. Heggie) whose jury has sent a young woman to the electric chair, and she is due to die that evening. People are begging him to stop the execution. This is my first problem. What can he do other than say there was a miscount? Anyway, he stands by his decision. When his own daughter (Sidney Fox) lands in the same predicament, claiming she killed her lover, Gar Boni (Bogart), one wonders how resolute he will be then. Pretty resolute. Ready to send her up the river, which I think is totally unrealistic behavior.
All this doesn't add up to much, but it's always a treat to see Bogart, and especially interesting at such an early point in his magnificent career. He's quite good. In fact, he's the only one who doesn't have huge pauses between his sentences and speaks in a decent rhythm. The director really didn't pace this movie too well. It's early days for talkies, and many actors were still adjusting their technique from stage to film.
An oldie, but unfortunately, not a goodie.
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