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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

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Reviews: 46 user | 17 critic

A novelist aided by his future father-in-law conspires to frame himself in the murder of a stripper as part of an effort to ban capital punishment.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tom Garrett
...
Susan Spencer
...
Austin Spencer
Arthur Franz ...
Bob Hale
Philip Bourneuf ...
Dist. Atty. Roy Thompson
...
Lt. Kennedy
Shepperd Strudwick ...
Jonathan Wilson
Robin Raymond ...
Terry Larue
...
Dolly Moore
William F. Leicester ...
Charlie Miller (as William Lester)
Dan Seymour ...
Greco
Rusty Lane ...
Judge
Joyce Taylor ...
Joan Williams
Carleton Young ...
Allan Kirk
Trudy Wroe ...
Hatcheck Girl
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Storyline

Investigative reporter Tom Garrett is on leave from his newspaper job to work on his second novel. As Tom is having problems writing that second book, his boss and future father-in-law, newspaper publisher Austin Spencer, suggests he write a non-fiction book on capital punishment in their state instead. Both Austin and Tom have long believed that the state district attorney, Roy Thompson, has been able to manipulate juries into rendering wrongful guilty verdicts leading to the deaths of innocent people on death row. The plan would be to plant evidence leading to a guilty verdict of an innocent person in a murder case, Tom to be that innocent person. Austin and Tom would document all that planted evidence, and make it public after the rendering of the guilty verdict to reverse that wrongful verdict and hopefully lead to discussion of the merits of abolishing capital punishment. They decide that the fewer people that know about the plan, the better, which means not telling Tom's fiancée... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Put them all together they spell M-U-R-D-E-R ! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Film-Noir | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 September 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jenseits allen Zweifels  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last film that Fritz Lang made in the USA before returning to Germany. See more »

Quotes

Terry Larue: [about Garrett] How much do you know about that guy?
Dolly Moore: He's the best score I've made in a long time.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The James Dean Story (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
Sung by The Hi-Los (as The Hi-Lo's)
Music by Herschel Burke Gilbert
Lyrics by Alfred Perry
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Too strained and imperfect for even Lang, Fontaine, and Andrews? Yes, sadly.
17 March 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

An early wide screen black and white drama that marks the end of Fritz Lang's American career and also shows the winding down of two great stars, Joan Fontaine and Dana Andrews. The film is no send off, exactly, but it is slightly tired, as if the formula of movie-making needs a twist and it isn't here.

That's not the point, of course. This is now the mid-fifties, crisis time for Hollywood, and with widescreen (and widescreen color) movies making a final jab at the rise of television. The plot is sensational, and not too far from what an extended early television drama might try, with mostly interior shooting and a staged (sometimes stagey) presentation. In all it's not Lang's best, and he was a master at both noir/expressionist drama and at getting to the human dilemma of fate and murder.

Andrews and Fontaine are not a bad pair—both are matched in calm and sophistication, and beauty, even, though Fontaine seems like an accessory until the very end. Andrews rules the plot, which makes him out to be a writer desperate for a new story. So desperate he's going to pretend to commit a murder just to test the justice system.

It's all so outrageous you want to believe it, though your mind says it just wouldn't happen. It's too convenient, and one man's suggestion from the newspaper turns out to be the other man's reality. Enough said!

Oddly enough, this is an RKO distribution even after the studio's demise (I don't know the reasons there) but it might point to a less than perfect crew. Certainly the cinematographer, which Lang relied on greatly in earlier films, is no one with credentials. Likewise the editing and writing are fairly routine, even lackluster. And so if a movie that depends on some psychological intensity is really a bit of a grunt effort, whatever the star power involved, it's a bit doomed.

So watch this if you are curious about any of the parts. I'm a fan of all three of the principles here, and so had to watch it. But I didn't walk away impressed.


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