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Lee J. Cobb
Having read all of the posts about "The Lady in Question", I can understand how disappointed some people would be, expecting either a Rita Hayworth-Glenn Ford vehicle, a la "Gilda" or a faithful replica of it's source: the French film, "Gibouille". This doesn't take away that "The Lady in Question" is an entertaining film with an odd, curious yet sweet charm that comes upon one quietly and lingers long after the film is over.
Two of the posters regarded "The Lady in Question" as a pallid remake of "Gibouille". Having seen some pre-WWII French films, they were not greatly more explicit than Hollywood was, at the time, in dealing with sex and crime. "The Lady in Question" is a mild comedy-drama made by a studio that was well-equipped to handle such material, Columbia Pictures. Director Charles Vidor, a Frenchman himself, nicely, subtly, and lingeringly establishes time and place. It greatly allows for the suspension of disbelief of hearing perfect English accents on French characters.
This film showcases Brian Aherne, who all too rarely was showcased at all, let alone in a comedy that he carried. He plays Morestan, the bicycle shopkeeper, admirably and almost succeeds in making one believe he was a middle-aged shopkeeper. He has just the right light tone to unify what is a mild plot and a minor-A film. Yes, studios didn't always make big-budget films with their stars. Many of their films, including "A" pictures, were "programmers", films that showcased stars and promising contract players. This, "The Lady in Question" did.
The players do shine, even though this film is an early entry for future stars Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, and Evelyn Keyes. In what could've been a merely decorative role, Hayworth truly has that "lady of mystery" quality that not only holds your attention but, momentarily, keeps one guessing as to whether or not she was guilty. Glenn Ford plays what would've been a callow juvenile with earnestness, a convincing portrait of young lust/love, and just enough vulnerability to make his love/suspicion relationship with Hayworth's character believable. Everyone acquits (pun intended)themselves very well in this film. Since the American film industry doesn't put out "programmers" anymore and we, as a public, are conditioned to see most star vehicles as big-budget affairs, it's a lost art but a beautiful one to sit, savor, and merely enjoy a well-crafted, entertaining film that isn't about anything special but delivers.
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