The midnight murder of a rancher and his wife leaves circumstantial evidence pointing the finger of guilt toward a married couple, George Braden and his wife Ellen, who live and work on the ranch. George confesses to the killings in order to free his wife from hours of grilling by the police. Despite the best efforts of his defense attorney, Doug Madison , George gets the death penalty. Sunsequent events and his sympathy for Ellen convince Doug that George is innocent but he must find the real murderer to prove it. His man-hunt leads to a former hired hand, Max Verne. With the help of the latter's greedy girl friend, Gracie Sanger, Max is found and admits to the killings. But when a hearing is held, a psychiatrist pronounces him unsound of mind but harmless and the judge sets him free. After the governor rejects Doug's pleas for an appeal for George, the townspeople turn against him, and his fiancée, Paula Mitchener), misconstrues his association with Ellen and breaks their engagement... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is far from the best Don Siegel movie. But, despite flaws in writing and acting, it's gripping and moves along, keeping the viewer on the edge of his or her seat.
Nothing is really credible. Theresa Wright as an itinerant farmer's wife? Actors with pronounced New York accents as menacing rednecks? And something about the script seems truly sub-par. The dialogue is not grammatical and this is not a matter of simulating regional speech or signifying class. The dialogue is just not well written.
The music, too, is strangely self-contradictory. At first it is pure schmalz, and Don Siegel is not the man for romance, even if it's romantic noir. Then a theramon is introduced and it sounds better.
Despite quibbling on my part, it's an engrossing movie. Believable? Not exactly. But, if one cuts it some considerable slack, it works well as a suspenseful kind-of noir.
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