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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Inspired by a performance of his favorite play, "Volpone," 20th-century millionaire Cecil Fox devises an intricate plan to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is dying. ... See full summary »
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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William Hartnell (Inspector Harris) and Patrick Troughton (Shepherd) would both later achieve widespread fame for playing the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963). Hartnell played the First Doctor from 1963 to 1966 while Troughton played the Second Doctor from 1966 to 1969. See more »
An ex-RAF gentleman pilot (Denant) has casual speech with a girl in a park, a girl of the night. As he leaves, a heavy handed police detective attempts to roughly arrest the girl, and Denant turns back to politely intervene, a "there's no need for that". The detective is a petty tyrant, out to make his bust of a poor working girl, though she had only been on the bench, not on the game. The two men tusslethe long arm of the law and the stronger arm of the righteous gentleman. The law falls, Denant stays righteous and is sent down for his pains.
Soon he breaks out and goes on the run, as a righteous matter of principle. He falls in with Dora, a daughter of a well respected family, whose family has fallen financially, and she is engaged for lucre not love. Stretching credulity, she very readily casts in her lot with him, defying the injustice of the law, and committing ever more until she's dropped her intended, exchanging lucre for love.
For Denant's part, he comes to accept that human justice is imperfect, and if you don't like it it might be better to lump it. Some reviewer has strangely suggested that God's direct voice features. That misses a big point: at most, it's God's indirect voice through a church leader, who philosophises that hearing God's voice is often difficult, even for Christians, in a fallen world. In short, moral decisions aren't always perfecteven as in chess several different moves according to objective rules can be good, and a seeming good move might be ill-judged. Should the church leader, as a law-abider, turn Denant in, or as a God-abider should he conceal Denant who has claimed sanctuary? What sanctuary remains in the world? Should Denant willingly suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? The film is explorative.
Its conclusion is clear about some decisions, but not clear about some conclusions, such as whether recapture will lead to extended jail time, or possibly a retrial, especially if a missing witness were to come forward. The imperfection of human justice, the futility of opposing it, the individual's freedom of choice even under Big Brother (sorry David & Teresa, lol), what it means to be human, all are looked at in this play.
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