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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>
This is a superb and sophisticated murder mystery. Joseph Cotten is in peak form as the lead man, Whitney Cameron, who is called to the bedside of his young niece, who is dying in hospital. The child dies of mysterious convulsions, enigmatically and inexplicably crying out: 'Don't touch my feet!' The plot thickens from there, and the strange cry is discovered to have a meaning after all. This is a first rate early fifties noir with Cotton, Jean Peters as his sister-in-law, and Gary Merrill as his lawyer friend. It is excellently directed by Andrew Stone and should be better known than it is. The story is cleverly developed, and the mystery lasts up until the very end of the film. The question is: who poisoned the niece with strychnine, and why? And who will be next? Cotton is urbane, reassuring, and very solid in the main role. Jean Peters is rather more arch than usual, with a character portrayal which is intentionally ambivalent, just to keep us all guessing. One does not know whether she is a femme fatale or not, and the whole point is that no one knows, even within the story. This is a most ingenious whodunit which will not disappoint any viewer.
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