Joe Cardos, a death row inmate in some unidentified country, is to face the gallows in the morning for strangling three women. Filled with bitterness at the world, and perhaps himself, Joe lashes out at the warden and guards' attempts at making his final hours a little easier, and refuses to see either his sister or the prison chaplain. However, Joe does change his mind about being granted a last request, one the prison is obligated by law to fulfill: He asks for a woman's company so he can have some "fun" in the time that's left. After asking around, two police detectives show up at the prison with a down-on-her-luck former "waitress" named Dora, who earlier that night had tried to drown herself. Dora, totally broke and feeling she has nothing to lose, has agreed to spend the night with Joe in his cell. As she sees it, the money she's being offered should be enough for "a decent funeral." Written by
Eugene Kim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I had a dream last night. A strange dream. I walked to the gallows, and they put the noose around my neck. Dropped the trapdoor. The rope broke, and I -- I fell to the ground. Then the prison bells started to ring. As if to proclaim a miracle had occurred. You see, the, the law says that when something like this happens, the convict's life must be spared. It's considered a sign of Providence. Eh, I guess Providence can't be bothered to perform miracles for my sake. When I woke up, I -- I could ...
See more »
John Agar himself has said (in an online chat hosted by Turner Classic Movies) that this was a "very strange" movie. Strange yes, but also intriguing in a low-budget sort of way.
Of course, the film is a retread of the old hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold romantic fantasy. (A much more recent example: "Leaving Las Vegas.") The Cleo Moore character, who agrees to spend the night with Agar, isn't actually identified as a prostitute, but we get the idea. We also know that the more time these two tormented souls spend together, the more they will get to know each other, and themselves, with a generous helping of psychobabble along the way.
But once you get past the obviousness of the film's rather incredible premise, not to mention a mawkish opening theme song, things get interesting in this modest, offbeat Hugo Haas opus. Moore and Agar deliver performances that are sincere, if at times a bit theatrical - he plays a condemned man who's mad at the whole world; she plays a suicidal woman who, despite her despair, is still capable of hope. Some of Moore and Agar's scenes together are nicely played out in long, continuous takes.
Unfortunately, the movie is nearly ruined by a frustrating, unresolved ending. Haas may have been trying for some kind of dramatically suspended moment, but it makes you want to yell at him: Tell us what happens next!!!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?