Great performances highlight this thriller about a diplomat (William Powell) who is quickly rising in power and has recently been married (Hedy Lamarr). His life turns upside down when a defendant in a trial accuses him of being a criminal, which he might be but he wouldn't remember since he suffered amnesia for some early years of his life. Things take a turn for the worse when a man (Basil Rathbone) shows up claiming to be his former partner and he wants cash to keep quiet. There are a few minor problems with the screenplay including Rathbone's character being able to predict what would eventually become of Powell but outside of that this is a pretty good little thriller that contains some great performances, nice direction and some early touches of shadows that make this very much like a noir (but before the term came to be). I think the most impressive thing here are the performances as they're all extremely good but you can also tell that the actors are having fun playing off one another. Powell is his usual charming self as he perfectly handles the more dramatic parts but he of course adds all sorts of light humor. Lamarr doesn't get as much to do as the wife but she still gets a couple good scenes early on. Rathbone was one of the best when it came to playing villains and he adds another good character to his resume. His performance is right on the mark but the way he and Powell act off one another is the most entertaining thing and it's what keeps the film moving. We also have Claire Trevor playing Rathbone's assistant and she too gets some wonderful moments with Powell. The rest of the supporting cast includes H.B. Warner, Margaret Wycherly and Felix Bressart. The noir genre didn't really get started until a few years later but many of those touches can be found here. You have the wonderful use of darkness and shadows, the femme fetale and of course the good guy behind held captive by thugs. I really enjoyed the visuals here and the way director Conway used the shadows to build up some nice atmosphere and this here really helped push the film over the edge. Add the atmosphere with the performances and you've got a pretty good little gem that's well worth watching.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?