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Barbara Carlin attends her own funeral and returns home suspecting that her husband, Rod Carlin, had tried to do away with her, and is also (rightfully) curious as to just who was the woman buried under her name. She learns that the victim was glamor girl Helen Lawrence, with whom her husband had been having an affair. Complications come from her sister Rusty, who, it turns out, is not her real sister and also doesn't like her a whole lot, and from a dim-witted prize fighter, George Mandley. The family attorney, Michael Dunn, stands around and provides little in the way of help or reason for being there, until... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Bury Me Dead is directed by Bernard Vorhaus and adapted to screenplay by Dwight V. Babcock and Karen DeWolf from a radio drama by Irene Winston. It stars June Lockhart, Cathy O'Donnell, Hugh Beaumont, Mark Daniels, Greg McClure and Milton Parsons. Music is by Emil Cadkin and cinematography by John Alton.
Barbara Carlin (Lockhart) surprises everyone by turning up alive and well shortly after she had been buried at funeral! This poses two immediate questions: Who was buried in Barbara's coffin? And who was it who attempted to murder her?
As has been noted by the few writers on line who have written about this film, it's a grand premise that unfortunately isn't exploited to its maximum. It's material that makes us lament that the likes of Lang, Siodmak or Mann didn't have this written idea land on their desks. Compact at under 70 minutes, it's a film that, under Bernard Vorhaus' guidance, just doesn't know if to play it as straight or straight out murder mystery comedy. Something further enhanced by Cadkin's musical score, which, quite frankly, belongs in an Abbott and Costello movie. However, the film rises above average because the script is actually strong and John Alton weaves some magic with his photographic lenses.
Narratively it's a good who done it? The mystery is strong and the reveal is not easy to guess from the off, though in fairness the comedy moments in the flashbacks kind of distract you from any detective work you want to partake in! But coupled with some sharp lines given to Lockhart, who delivers them with a scorpion like sting, it's well written stuff. Yet without doubt it's Alton's work that makes this well worth viewing, whenever the film gets indoors the film takes on another dimension. Alton creates stark images at every turn, angled shadows everywhere, the whites ghostly and the darks deathly black. The last 15 minutes of the film are played out on this atmospheric stage and it's everything that a Alton fan could want. Even if it ultimately is work that deserves a far, far better film. 6/10
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