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Steven Kenet, suffering from a recurring brain injury, appears to have strangled his wife. Having confessed, he's committed to an understaffed county asylum full of pathetic inmates. There, Dr. Ann Lorrison is initially skeptical about Kenet's story and reluctance to undergo treatment. But against her better judgement, she begins to doubt his guilt, and endangers her career on a dangerous quest through dark streets awash with rain. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The old man singing "Home on the Range" in the bathtub treatment room doesn't sing the correct lyrics. He sings "where seldom is heard a disparaging word, And the skies are cloudy all day."
And the skies are not cloudy all day. The correct lyric is "Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day". See more »
Robert Taylor is Steven Kenet, accused of killing his unfaithful wife in "High Wall," a 1947 film noir also starring Audrey Totter and Herbert Marshall. In our first glimpse of Steve, he's in a car with a dead woman careening down the road to get rid of her. The problem is, due to a brain injury suffered during the war, he can't remember what happened. He is institutionalized for psychiatric evaluation to see if he can stand trial as a sane person. Audrey Totter is Ann, the psychiatrist who takes in Steve's small son as well as works with her patient to try and uncover the truth. Herbert Marshall plays his dead wife's boss.
After World War II, Hollywood began to explore mental and emotional disorders and the use of psychiatry to unlock the traumas of the mind. "Possessed," "Spellbound," and "The Snake Pit" are just a few of the dozens of films employing the use of psychiatry, mental hospitals, and/or psychotropic drugs. In "High Wall," the psychiatry seems to be more of a plot device than something that is actually used to help the patient. It's there to provide flashbacks. Meanwhile, the Taylor character, once he has surgery, has a mind of his own and is constantly slipping out or in the psychiatrist's office window, hiding in her car, and visiting the scene of the crime. The biggest problem is that the character of the murder victim is never developed, and the reasons for her behavior are never made clear. Nevertheless, the film manages to hold one's interest, has a great atmosphere and a couple of really shocking moments. There are also some very funny bits throughout, including a scene where Steve meets the public defender.
This is one of Robert Taylor's best performances. After "Johnny Eager," one of Hollywood's biggest heartthrobs began to play more complex roles and more bad guys. It was a good move; he played them very well. He doesn't get much support from Audrey Totter, who turns in a dull, somewhat cold performance in an attempt to be a professional woman. She doesn't give the role a lot of shading. Herbert Marshall seems somewhat miscast and is too lethargic for a role that requires some emotional range.
Very watchable for handsome Taylor's excellent performance.
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