In Paris, a down and out medical student Johann Radek (Franchot Tone) is paid by Bill Kirby (Robert Hutton) to murder his wealthy aunt. A knife grinder (Burgess Meredith) is suspected, but ... See full summary »
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Alfred E. Green
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In Paris, a down and out medical student Johann Radek (Franchot Tone) is paid by Bill Kirby (Robert Hutton) to murder his wealthy aunt. A knife grinder (Burgess Meredith) is suspected, but Radek keeps taunting the police until they realize that he is the killer. The police and Maigret (Charles Laughton) are led on chases through the streets and over the rooftops of Paris and finally up the girders of the Eiffel Tower. Written by
Herman Seifer <email@example.com>
According to her book "My Life in France," Julia Child and her husband Paul Child met 'Burgess Meredith' (qav) and 'Franchot Tone' at the restaurant Les Deux Magots, where the two were filming this movie. It would be another 12 years before Julia would begin her rise to fame. See more »
When Maigret is reading the 'Letter to the Editor' about the escape, the position of his hands on the newspaper change between shots. See more »
As I started watching The Man On the Eiffel Tower it looked like it was going to go in the direction of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. Robert Hutton is having a sit down with his wife Patricia Roc and his mistress Jean Wallace in a Paris cafe. He gets an offer from Franchot Tone who was all ears that he'd kill Hutton's aunt who controls the family pursestrings so that Hutton could be independent.
Tone doesn't lack for chops. He not only does the deed with a maid thrown in for good measure, he manages to pin the crime on milquetoast Burgess Meredith who just happened on the scene.
Fortunately police inspector Maigret as played by Charles Laughton doesn't buy the pat scenario. He turns up Tone as a suspect, but he can't quite pin it on him. Tone's character reeks of Nietzchean superiority and France had just gotten liberated from a country that bought into that philosophy. Probably for today's audience, especially an American one, that particular dynamic can't be appreciated.
Even an escape allowed by the Paris police by Meredith blows up in Laughton's face and threatens to ruin the career of Inspector Maigret. Fortunately Laughton has a few tricks up his sleeve.
What we have in The Man On the Eiffel Tower is three very distinguished players from stage and screen who got together and made the film almost as a lark. Tone spent his entire film career trying to get out from under typecasting as a debonair gentleman in tails who usually loses the girl in the end to a bigger name. Right after this was done Franchot Tone did exactly that role in Frank Capra's Here Comes the Groom. His role here as Radek is certainly miles away from his usual parts. Tone produced this as he also produced another independent film the year before, Jigsaw, which was shot in New York.
He got friend Burgess Meredith to direct and play the stooge. The story unfortunately does sag at times until the climax chase scene on the Eiffel Tower. That whole sequence is almost like The Third Man except where Harry Lime seeks escape in the sewers of Vienna, superman Tone leads his pursuers up the Eiffel Tower. In the end though he's not quite the superman he thinks he is.
Charles Laughton made a nice Inspector Maigret. This is the second French police inspector of literature he's done. But there sure is a world of difference between Maigret and Javert of Les Miserables. In fact Laughton is far more like Sir Wilfred Robards in Witness for the Prosecution than Javert.
It's too bad that director Meredith didn't have the kind of computer generated special effects and had to rely on brave stunt men and actors to do the job. If Man on the Eiffel Tower were filmed today, I'm sure it would have been far better.
This criticism is almost a cliché, but Alfred Hitchcock could have really done something with The Man on the Eiffel Tower.
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