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Joseph H. Lewis
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The proprietor of an ice-skating revue promotes a peanut-vendor at the show to a management position based on suggestions he made to improve the act of the show's star, who also happens to be the owner's wife. However, he soon begins to notice that his new manager is paying more attention to his wife than he believes is appropriate, and begins to suspect that his new manager has designs not only on his wife but on his business. Meanwhile, someone from the new manager's past shows up with information that could wreck his plans. Written by
Monogram threw some money at this one and produced a nifty noir starring Belita, Barry Sullivan, Bonita Granville, Albert Dekker, and Eugene Palette called "Suspense," a 1946 film directed by Frank Tuttle.
Figure skater Belita plays Roberta, whose skating show is produced by her husband Frank (Dekker). Frank hires down and out Joe Morgan (Sullivan) to sell peanuts, and Joe starts working his way up to more important things, such as falling for Roberta. Frank catches on and, while he and Roberta are relaxing at their lodge, Joe drops in with papers to sign. Frank has him stay the night. The next day, Frank takes a hunting gun and intends to kill Joe, but the gun report starts an avalanche, and Frank is presumed dead. Presumed...but is he? Joe keeps Roberta's shows going after a fashion, all the while rejecting an old girlfriend (Granville) who has the hots for him. She doesn't like his attitude, and wants to know why he left New York in such a rush.
A few minutes shaved off of this film might have helped the pace, which is stopped cold every once in a while by a big skating number, several of which (particularly the first) are really wonderful. Belita of course never had the popularity of Sonia Henie - at the age of 12, she placed 16th at the 1936 Olympics, one of Henie's gold medal years. Belita didn't stay an amateur long and eventually entered films as poverty row's answer to Sonia. Strangely, Belita, with her background in Russian ballet, comes off as more modern and frankly a more exciting skater than Henie. Her lines are gorgeous and she enters her spins faster.
There are some interesting shots in this film, particularly the technique of the overhead light swinging back and forth, taking Sullivan and Belita in and out of the light as they are talking.
Highly entertaining with a good performances by the always solid Sullivan and the imposing Dekker. This was Eugene Palette's final film, as he retired after this. It's a fitting ending - he does a great job as Frank's and then Joe's assistant. It's really a good cast, very un-Monogram like, as were the production values.
Great entertainment. If you like film noir and figure skating, this is the film for you.
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