Angered that her sister Celia has stolen her fiance, Dell Faring kills her and allows Celia's husband David, knocked out in an argument with Celia, to take the blame and end up on death row. Later Dell, finding out that David's young daughter Susan was witness to the crime and is undergoing psychiatric treatment, plans to eliminate her before her memory returns. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
When Dell frantically flips through the front section of a newspaper looking for an article about the possible demise of her step-niece, the prop newspaper clearly has no name banner, headlines, photos or ads. See more »
Unheralded little thriller with a number of nice touches. Little Gigi Perreau (Susan) has the pivotal role and comes through beautifully. If we don't identify with her or her emotional trauma, the movie doesn't work. Fortunately, we do. The movie scared the heck out of me as a boy, mainly because I was viewing the menace through the eyes of my peer, little Susan. Still, it's the movie's ability to engage even adults through Susan's eyes that drives the suspense. For the little girl, it's an adult world only dimly comprehended that one night turns so shockingly ugly, she must repress it totally. Nancy Davis Reagan-- perhaps surprisingly for many viewers-- is very persuasive as the doctor helping Susan to recover.
Looks like this was another B-movie from MGM's Dore Schary period when he was refashioning the studio's star-studded image. The under-rated Scott and Sothern are certainly playing against type, he as a kind-hearted father, she as a cold-hearted murderess. Oddly, the screenplay shares focus among these four players instead of centralizing one or two as is usually the case. In terms of actual screen time, it's probably Nancy Davis's movie, though she was likely too unknown to get star billing. Then too, whatever happened to Kristine Miller as Scott's faithless wife. She certainly looks the part and acts it wickedly.
Speaking of talented unknowns, director Pat Jackson put this neat little package together. His career appears a rather brief one, mainly in England, where he also directed several episodes of the cult TV series, The Prisoner. Too bad he disappeared so quickly, because there are a number of nice directorial touches here. Note Pike's (John McIntire) shadow engulfing Dell (Sothern) at movie's end indicating the retribution to come; the blurry special effects mirroring little Susan's traumatized mental state; the suggestive hair-drier closing over Dell's head like an electrocution helmet; the great noirish shot of Dell framed against ominous skyscrapers suggesting dark powers looming over Susan. Anyway, this all adds up to a very effective little thriller, proving that even though late to the party, MGM could B- movie with the best of them.
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