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Lewis D. Collins
A man wrongly accused of murdering an ex-girlfriend must rely on his wife to do the detective work and find the real killer. The murder trial proceeds while the wife continues sleuthing, and precious time ticks away. Written by
This is a superb example of a high-calibre British postwar murder mystery. It was the first film ever directed by Ronnie Neame, who is mostly famous for his classics 'Tunes of Glory' (1960) and 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' (1969). The cinematography by Guy Green (later a director) is inspired and intensely expressionist in the German manner. Neame really shows what a brilliant director he was, not only coaxing excellent performances out of his actors, but keeping the pace and the tension despite the fact that the identity of the murderer is revealed very early. Francis L. Sullivan is, as usual, hair-raising as the prosecuting counsel, although his role should have been more prominent if the film had not been so short at only 76 minutes. (One suspects things were cut out before release, as the buildup of Sullivan really does fizzle out without explanation.) The scenes towards the end of the film really do become incredibly menacing and powerful, as Marius Goring, who plays the murderer in an eerie and intense style, can be seen calculating what he must do next, and sets about it with the methodical determination of a man who now has nothing to lose. Hugh Williams is excellent as the rather formal husband of Greta Gynt, an equally formal wife who is an opera star. It is difficult for such people to cope with real situations of danger, as their behaviour is so mannered, even in their most private moments, that quick thinking and quick action are impossibilities for them, what with all the thawing out they have to do first, not to mention the necessity of changing for dinner, straightening the black tie, and making sure every hair is in place. Sometimes when your life is in danger, such formalities can be rather impeding! But that is part of the irony of this tale, of which a subliminal motif is: things like that don't happen to people like us. In this film, the doomed victim is Rosalie Crutchley, who really was a fascinating wench at that early age, in fact, someone to whom you can imagine almost anything could happen, and it does.
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