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 ...
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Alfred E. Green
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I'd read about this movie years ago (and nearly bought a DVD at the supermarket, but passed) so I was pleased to see it on PBS last night. It does sustain interest but ultimately isn't very satisfying. Parisian locations are very nice and lend the right touch of authenticity to Simenon's tale, but the most disappointing element is the cast. As the villain (spoiler?) Franchot Tone (who also co-produced) begins well in his quieter scenes but as his megalomania takes over he simply shouts his way through the part. Meredith plays a mousy character he's done countless times (the glasses gimmick would be used again, memorably, in a "Twilight Zone" episode). Most unfortunate is Charles Laughton, an actor I rarely find less than hugely entertaining (even in ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET CAPTAIN KIDD) who in this film just can't seem to find a handle for his character, coming across as erratic and boring. The only actor who emerges with professional honor intact is Wilfred Hyde White, who shines briefly in a small cameo.
The climactic chase on the Eiffel Tower, however, is a vertigo inducing delight, marred only slightly by unfortunate use of a dummy. A movie worth seeing once, especially for the finale, but not more than that.
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