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Five Angles on Murder More at IMDbPro »The Woman in Question (original title)

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Five versions of one person

Author: David Wheeler (Dave_BobW) from United Kingdom
18 May 2003

'The Woman in Question' shows the same person, the fairground fortune-teller Astra (real name: Agnes) as five different people saw her. Astra has been found strangled and the police chief tries to put together what has happened to her.

Jean Kent is excellent - for me, she was at her best in sleazy, tarty roles and the episode seen from her sister's (Susan Shaw) point of view is no exception. I love the moment when we first see this version of Astra, sprawled in bed in a messy room, drunk. The music is wonderful here.

Charles Victor plays Mr Pollard, the pet shop owner, with a fine degree of understatement. Hermione Baddeley is equally good as the nosy neighbour Mrs Finch.

Jean Kent (in 'Sixty Voices' by Brian McFarlane) felt the episode closest to the character in her view was the happy-go-lucky girl as seen by the Irish sailor played by John McCallum. Her least favourite was the Susan Shaw episode. Apparently Bette Davis had originally been in mind for the part.

A very cleverly made film and a classic British film.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A greatly underrated classic

Author: swordfish-1 from Kosovo
9 October 2002

A Woman in Question (recently IMDb lists it as Five Angels on Murder) is a Rashomon like story told in flashback. The story develops after a women is found dead and police detectives question witnesses, each of whom provides a different account of events leading to the murder. Until the very end, the ulterior motives of each of the characters remain unclear.

It is a greatly underrated movie that is not easily accessible. Anthony Asquith handles the material really well and masterfully builds the suspense. In addition, solid performances are provided by the cast.

If you get an opportunity to watch this movie, do not miss it. Hopefully the movie will become more accessible in the years to come.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

My brief review of the film

Author: sol- from Perth, Australia
27 June 2005

For the first twenty minutes or so, the film feels like a run-of-the-mill investigation film noir, but then it takes a unique spin, providing five different accounts of the events. It is quite interesting to watch from there on in, even though the male characters are rather thin and flat - the investigators in particular. The conclusion is also a bit disappointing and it is all a bit overly melodramatic at times, but the core of the picture - its middle section - is really quite strong, and that is what causes this film to be much better than the average piece of crime investigation film noir out there.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

One of my top 20 films

Author: lfisher0264 from United Kingdom
6 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film repays several viewings. It's not just Astra who changes according to who's telling her story. People's memories of themselves are also flattering. Astra's sister Katie as remembered by Mrs Finch is a nasal-voiced slut. As remembered by herself she is as gracious as a member of the royal family. When we see her with the police (and this we assume is "reality"), she is much nicer than Mrs Finch's view of her, but more lower-class than her own self- image. In the minds of Mrs Finch and Mr Pollard, Astra is always seen in a shaft of light, her voice is like an angel's - and her dressing gown is clean. Katie has the unkindest view of Astra - seeing her as a round-shouldered slattern with a growing out perm, a filthy dressing gown, someone who sleeps in her makeup and (ripped) stockings. Though it's pretty clear that Astra supplements her fortune telling with prostitution, Katie - who is pleasant enough to have Bob fall in love with her - seems to be exaggerating Astra's vulgarity. But at the very end, when the Inspector tells Pollard "This is what really happened" we see... Astra herself, not seen through the distorting lens of another character. And she is the hunched, harsh-voiced woman in the dirty dressing gown.

Apart from the unusual psychological detective story (who killed her? who was she?) this film is great for the background of the little seaside town, the shabby fairground, the little houses unchanged for 50 years.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Gypsy Creamed

Author: writers_reign from London, England
26 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite a tendency to be overshadowed by the likes of Carol Reed, David Lean, etc, Puffin Asquith was arguably the finest all-round Director to emerge from England turning out consistent high quality product unlike Reed, for example, whose early work was risible. By the mid forties Asquith was on a roll and between 1945 and 1952 he turned out six exceptional movies, The Way To The Stars, While The Sun Shines, The Winslow Boy, The Woman In Question, The Browning Version and The Importance Of Being Earnest. The first was an Original Screenplay by Terence Rattigan, the next two were adaptations of plays by Rattigan, the fourth was an Original by John Cresswell, the fifth was another adaptation of a Rattigan play and the sixth was by Oscar Wilde. Jean Kent featured prominently in two of the six, this one, and its successor, The Browning Version, a masterpiece and one of the finest films ever produced in England. Beside Rattigan and Wilde the name John Cresswell gets lost in the shuffle and perhaps rightly so; this was his first screen credit and though he achieved a dozen or so more this was arguably his finest hour and even that was a rip-off of Rashomon. It was arguably Jean Kent's finest performance and she revelled in the chance to play Astra the Gypsy Fortune Teller who failed to foresee her own demise and who was five women in one, depending on whether it's Hermione Dabbely, Dirk Bogarde, Susan Shaw, Charles Victor or John McCallum who's describing her. Baddely and Victor provide strongest support with Bogarde so inept that one wonders how he was able to sustain a career - his American accent is so ludicrous that eventually (presumably as a bow to his limitations) he is forced to admit that he hails from Liverpool which is even more ludicrous as he sound pure Home Counties. McCallum and Shaw appear to have struck a private wager on who can deliver the hammiest performance and honours are about even. Despite all this it remains a highly watchable effort.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It all boils down to why not who or when

Author: sol from Brooklyn NY USA
3 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***SPOILERS*** Clever Rashomon-like British film involving fortune-teller Madam Aster who was found strangled in her flat in an obvious crime of passion by someone she may not have been that passionate with.

With policemen Supt. Lodge and his partner Inspt. Butler called on the scene they check out all the clues to Madam Aster's murder and come up with five suspects. As the movie goes on we get statements, and flashbacks, from the five suspects in Madam Aster's murder that all contradict each other. It becomes very apparent to both Lodge & Butler that Madam Aster had deeply offended everyone of the five persons suspected of murdering her. The trick is who of those that she offended was driven to the point of killing her! There's Madam Aster's landlady, and suspect #1, Mrs Finch who didn't like the company that she kept in her apartment that included, suspect# 2, double-talking BS artist and carnival mind reader Bob Baker. It was Baker who left Madam Aster for her far more attractive sister, and suspect #3, Catherine Taylor after she threw him out of her apartment! We, as well as Supt. Lodge & Inspt. Butler, can't leave out the kindly neighborhood "Mr. Fix It All", and suspect #4, Albert Pollard. The meek and always available Pollard was always trying to get the much younger Madam Aster to fall for him and, with both Pollard and Madam Aster still married, become his sex slave or live-in lover. All that the frustrated Pollard ever got from her, for his noble and unselfish services, was nothing more then a handshake smile and thank you!

And finally we come to the insanely jealous rummy and bar-room brawler, as well as suspect #5, Sailor Mike Murray who wherever he went violence always followed. Sailor Mike went nuts when he showed up unexpectedly at Madam Aster's apartment, after being out at sea for three months, and finding her with an other man! Throwing Madam Aster's boyfriend, or possible John, down a fight of stairs a fired up Sailor Mike then checked out and got himself juiced up in a local ginmill. With Sailor Mike coming on the scene after Madam Aster's body was discovered by the police was that his way to show that he was innocent of murdering her or him just playing ignorant in order to throw the police off his tail!

***SPOILERS*** It's Supt Lodge who finally cracks the case not by having the evidence lead him to Madam Aster's murderer but the murderer him or herself unknowingly doing the job for him!

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Who was Astra?

Author: blanche-2 from United States
7 January 2012

When a fortune teller named Astra (Jean Kent) is found murdered, the police investigate and hear several versions of the kind of woman she was in "The Woman in Question," a 1950 British film directed by Anthony Asquith. Besides Kent, the film features the excellent Hermoine Baddeley and Dirk Bogarde, still in the early part of his career.

The police are given five women and therefore, five different stories. To her neighbor Mrs. Finch (Baddeley), Astra was pure class, gracious and sophisticated with questionable taste in men. To Pollard, the owner of the pet store who was crazy about her, she was pretty, quiet, and sweet (though the audience can see how manipulative she is); to Baker (Bogarde) who wants to do a nightclub act with her, she is a tart; to her sister, she's a slovenly drunk.Finally, from a violent sailor, Mike Murray, she's a faithless woman who cheats on him while he's away. We do learn that Astra's husband is in a hospital, badly injured in the war and not expected to live, yet she doesn't visit him. She also lets Pollard do things for her for free and must realize he has a crush on her.

All in all, an interesting and sometimes funny film. Kent is excellent in all of Astra's manifestations, and, since I am a Dirk Bogarde fan, I loved seeing him and hearing him with an American accent (which he actually did pretty well with). Baddeley, always excellent, is a riot.

"Five Angles on Murder" or "The Woman in Question" is not the most exciting film you'll ever see, and like a lot of British films, it's a bit slow in the beginning, but it's enjoyable.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Film Noir in Rashomon Style

Author: JohnHowardReid
17 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Investigating the brutal murder of a fun-fair fortune teller, a detective encounters five different witnesses' accounts of her character.

This ingenious noir thriller provides an opportunity for Jean Kent to give the stand-out performance of her career as the murder victim who is seen though different eyes throughout the narrative. Every critic in the world has pointed out this obvious fact, but very few have zeroed in on Susan Shaw who gives a far more subtle but nonetheless equally telling interpretation of the victim's sister as her part in the drama is also recalled by the various witnesses.

Also handing out an astonishingly well-rounded performance is Dirk Bogarde who cleverly overdoes the bogus American accent in order to tip the audience off to his real persona. He fooled me completely.

All the actors are well-nigh perfect. The only player I have any problem with is Duncan Macrae in the key role of Superintendent Lodge. To my mind, Macrae lacks the charisma for this important part and I would have much preferred to see Duncan Lamont, a fine actor, who does wonders with his small and inconsequential role as a direction finder at the fun fair.

Asquith has handled his players well, although I thought that a little more ingenuity in camera angles would have made the film even more noirishly appealing.

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

An English Rashomon, or a drag routine

Author: Dierdre99
4 November 2001

Made the same year - 1950 - as Rashomon which is acclaimed for retelling the same story several ways, The Woman in Question does the very same, allowing Jean Kent to portray five rather different versions of Astra, the fortune teller. The women in the film are much better drawn than the men, despite both the director and writer being themselves men, and despite the narrative framework of the all-male police team. Some would attribute this to Asquith's gay perspective. The combined portrait of Astra is not very flattering, especially her refusal to visit her dying husband, and in her using Pollard, the pet-shop keeper, to work for her for free, but then refusing his polite advances, she is walking a dangerous line. The underlying sadness of her person comes through, but she is not as sad as Pollard.

The outstanding secondary character is Mrs Finch, the nosey neighbour from next door who never stops talking. Hermione Baddeley, in the part, practically steals the first part of the film to the extent that the rest almost seems like an anticlimax. Her characterization, her way of speech, the hairnet and the pinafore, owe a lot to the English tradition of comical working-class characters that goes back to renaissance theatre, was developed in the Music Hall, and is a precursor of the Monty-Python housewives chatting over the back fence. That is, it is very easy to see her as done by Dan Leno or Al Reid. A change of emphasis and we have a drag routine.

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5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

pedestrian detective movie

Author: John wallis from UK
16 October 2005

This film is a slightly below average detective movie which passes the time if you've nothing else to do. As with many similar black and white films of the era "The Woman in Question" offers an insight into post-war Britain, but it doesn't hold a candle to "Brighton Rock" which, like this film, also has a seaside setting.

The story takes a while to get started, but Jean Kent is excellent as the murder victim as described to the police by different witnesses. Hermione Baddeley also does well in a dull and overlong role as neighbour Mrs Finch, whose son discovers the murder. There is a small twist right near the end, but it is hardly much of a surprise and the film ending is abrupt and disappointing. 5/10

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