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A woman races against time to clear Nicholas Talbot of a murder he did not commit. While she works on getting proof, the prosecution is doing all it can to convict Mr. Talbot of killing his former girlfriend. Written by
Successful opera singer Greta Gynt and her husband Hugh Williams have a marital quarrel over an ex of Williams. Gynt accidentally hurts Williams on his forehead, and he walks out to cool down. At the same time, his ex is strangled by another man, but not before she hits him over the head with a vase, also leaving him with a scar on his forehead. A man spots the killer, and based on items found with the ex linking her to Williams and the man thinking he recognizes Williams due to his scar and overall resemblance, Williams is arrested. Because they're ashamed and not understanding the severity of the situation, both Williams and Gynt initially give conflicting statements about their quarrel, digging a deeper hole for Williams. Gynt has to try and find the real killer before Williams is convicted in a seemingly clear case.
In some ways this movie is nothing special, the story (based on a play) is good but not too surprising. The acting is also solid throughout with the gorgeous Gyn ('Dear Murderer') standing out with a nuanced and great performance. However, the execution is exceptional and this is where this movie impresses. First time director, and former cinematographer, Ronald Neame ('The Poseidon Adventure') plays with the narrative structure by using prosecutor Francis L. Sullivan ('Night And The City') to tell the story in voice over, as he presents his case to the court. As Sullivan reconstructs the murder, using Williams as the killer, the murder is shown, but with the real killer who does resemble Williams, disorienting the viewer. It's a small but clever trick that works, and even brings Hitchcock to mind (as do other scenes, especially in the way tension and suspense is created). His direction is focused while also managing to be playful and interesting. He is also helped tremendously by the excellent cinematography of Guy Green ('Great Expectations', future director of 'Portrait Of Alison', another great Britnoir). There are lots of shadows, stark lights, clever camera positions, but always in service of the movie. Neame and Green manage to turn a good movie into a great and stylish Britnoir/thriller, I was highly impressed by the visual and narrative language they used. A bit of a hidden gem? In any case, highly recommended!
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