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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Drama | 5 September 1956 (USA)
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
...
Bob Hale
Philip Bourneuf ...
Dist. Atty. Roy Thompson
...
Lt. Kennedy
Shepperd Strudwick ...
Jonathan Wilson
...
Terry Larue
...
Dolly Moore
William F. Leicester ...
Charlie Miller (as William Lester)
Dan Seymour ...
Greco
Rusty Lane ...
Judge
Joyce Taylor ...
Joan Williams
...
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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 September 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jenseits allen Zweifels  »

Company Credits

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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

Austin Spencer: [to Garrett] You get engaged to my daughter, and all you can think about is capital punishment?
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Connections

Remade as Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) 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
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User Reviews

Not as taut as it should have been or as meaningful
23 March 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Tom Garrett is a writer engaged to the daughter of wealthy newspaper man Austin Spencer. Spencer is also firmly against the death penalty. With Tom looking for a subject for a second novel, Spencer suggests that they set Tom up for an unsolved murder using circumstantial evidence to prove how easy it would be for the courts to kill an innocent man. Once Tom is sentenced to the chair, Spencer will expose the failings in the system and free him. However when Spencer is killed in car crash and none of the evidence can be found then Tom faces the chair.

A very interesting concept still needs a good delivery to make for a good film. This not only had a good idea but it was also a fair point to be made about the death penalty. The film moves along with a good build up for the whole first half. However once Tom finds himself in real trouble then the film strangely doesn't manage to deliver as much tension as it really should have done. Conversely the film becomes more of a melodrama for a while and it loses a lot of momentum. There are some nice touches at the end but they can't completely make up for the weaknesses in the middle section.

It is quite atmospheric but not to the point that I had hoped but Lang does a good job on direction. The cast are OK. Andrews has long been one of my favourite actors from the period and he gives a solid if unspectacular show here. Fontaine is weaker and doesn't quite convince as well as Andrews but is fine. Blackmer is pretty enjoyable as Austin Spencer and Ed Binns is a familiar face as Lt. Kennedy.

It doesn't quite work as you'd hope as the tension drops off at the exactly the moment that it needs to step up a notch. It is worth watching but it is not one of Lang's better films.


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