A Bank officer discovers a flaw in the U.S. extradition treaty with Brazil and decides to take advantage of it. On Friday, he steals a million dollars from the bank, knowing it won't be ... See full summary »
Andrew L. Stone
Yesterday Jim Molner was an ordinary guy. Today he's a desperate man, frantically trying to save himself and his family, held hostage by a demented terrorist who's demanding $500,000 not to... See full summary »
A charming, smooth-talking gambler calling himself Chris Hale arrives in Ashton, home of the Corelli shoe factory. Claiming to have lived there as a boy, he soon ingratiates himself with ... See full summary »
Patrick Martin (Joseph Cotten), known as P.M., is a wealthy attorney and rancher big-man-in-town in the border town of Nogales, Arizona. He returns home to find his brother Donald (Van ... See full summary »
In 1848, a young Frenchwoman, Madeline Minot, goes to New York City to see Thevenet, the grandfather of her fiance. Thevenet had been with Napoleon and may be sympathetic to the political ... See full summary »
Two orphans, Polly and Doug, live with their stepmother Lynne; Polly collapses with the same mystery symptoms that killed her father. The kids' visiting uncle, Whitney Cameron, is warned that the symptoms match strychnine poisoning, but that poisoners are seldom detected and rarely convicted. Sure enough, no case can be made against the obvious suspect; so what can Whitney do to save the next victim? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
There was a kind of symbiosis between radio dramas and movies in the 1940s and early 1950s. Radio plays from programs like "Suspense" were made into movies (eg., "Where the Sidewalk Ends") and vice versa (eg., Lux Radio Theater). This movie sounds like it was made from such a radio drama, whether or not it was. A voiceover by Cotton carries the listener -- I mean the viewer -- along, explaining inner feelings that might be better shown than described, covering action that takes place between scenes, and so forth.
The plot is straightforward and I won't describe it. The cast is pretty respectable but they don't do their best here. The problem is with Stone's direction. It's rudimentary. Nothing of interest is added to the plot visually or by way of incidental events. The performers recite their lines as if reading them from cue cards. And some of the actors -- Gary Merrill's wife, for instance -- overact as if instructed to do so by Cecile B. DeMille, as if it were a silent movie.
All comparisons are odious, of course, but there is a lot of eating in this movie. Characters enter a restaurant or a friend's apartment, shake out their napkins, and sit down to eat -- whereupon Stone dissolves to the next scene, as if finding nothing of interest in the meal. One salivates at the thought of what Hitchcock would have done with this movie. In one of these meal scenes the characters stand around waiting for a table and discuss the mechanics and symptoms of strychnine poisoning. The dissolve is relentless. Can you imagine Hitchcock filming this? The character wouldn't even bring up poison until after they had made their first slice into the beef Wellington. (Poor Cotton is stuck in these dull scenes after having done one or two much more interesting ones in "Shadow of a Doubt.") Hitchcock would certainly have added some much-needed humor to this rather flat script.
The director's laxity is most apparent in the climactic scene in which two men sit around watching Jean Peters to see if she collapses. If she does, she's proven herself guilty of murder. They give her five minutes and they sit silently and observantly while she carries on about how unjust and insulting this whole trial process is. The director turns her into a nervous wreck during these critical five minutes -- smoking incessantly, sweating, her voice trembling -- so that we're never really in much doubt about whether she's been poisoned, that is whether she's guilty. A more careful director would have had her cool as a cucumber, righteously angry, distant and disdainful of her observers. A viewer would have felt uncertain and perhaps a little guilty of the way Peters is being treated. Well, Peters is guilty, but the charges should be dismissed and brought instead against director Stone.
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