A mousy drugstore manager turns killer after his conniving wife leaves him for another man. He devises a complex plan, which involves assuming a new identity, to make it look like someone else murdered her new boyfriend. Things take an unexpected turn when someone else commits the murder first and he becomes the prime suspect. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Audrey Totter was promised top-billing by the Producer, but when Richard Basehart was borrowed from Fox to play her husband, the studio demanded that he get top billing as a condition of the agreement. See more »
Exterior of the street outside drugstore (shot on actual location) do not match with views of same street as seen through window of drugstore interior (a set). See more »
Underrated, somewhat obscure B mystery/noir film about a mousy drugstore manager married to a beautiful woman who uses him and plays the field while he works nights. Things heat up as the woman leaves her husband for another man, he goes to get her, gets beat up by the hulk of a guy she is with, and then he decides he will invent a whole new identity on the weekends and kill him. Richard Basehart does a really good job playing the mild-mannered Warren and then the more realistic Paul Southern. Basehart just doesn't stereotype either role but gives life to each. The director John Berry creates many suspenseful scenes and does all those film noir things we come to expect from a good noir thriller: lots of odd camera angles, excellent use of lighting and shadows, a narrator telling us information after the fact, and a group of players of dubious character. Audrey Totter plays Warren's playful wife to perfection - she really gives the role some depth despite it being so outwardly two-dimensional. The rest of the cast is very effective with Barry Sullivan pulling extra duty as policeman and film narrator doing a very credible job, William Conrad adding humour as his partner, Tom D'Andrea being a voice of reason, and lovely Cyd Charisse as Paul's object of affection. Tension is one of those diamonds in the rough you find when you least expect it. The film doesn't boast a huge budget or marquee stars, but it can hold its weight with many of the films of similar subject matter in its era. Another great plus is the terrific score used throughout by Andre Previn. It almost assumes the role of another character with its ubiquitous presence shadowing the proceedings throughout. If you like good old-fashioned mysteries, then you should not be at all be disappointed with Tension.
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