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Directed by Joseph Losey and written by Howard Koch (using pseudonyms):
This film appears in some listings under its British title, THE INTIMATE STRANGER, as running 95 minutes. The US version, however, runs only 84 minutes. While it is quite a watchable production, there are many moments when the effects of 'editorial' scissors can be felt. Several scenes start clumsily in progress and there are a number of jump cuts. It's hard to imagine a director of Joseph Losey's caliber would have sanctioned this version of the film.
Whatever title it goes under, this film is pretty well-regarded by the few who have seen it. Perhaps it is the result of the cuts, but this film is pretty uninvolving. The protagonist is well-played by Richard Basehart with a slight suggestion of awkwardness. The rest of the cast is adequate, but not remarkable. What really sinks the film is the questionable motivation on the part of the Basehart character. A married American film director living in England, he receives a letter from a woman he does not know, claiming they have a relationship that she wishes to continue. Suddenly, Basehart is frantic, pacing around, tearing his hair, asking his father-in-law for advice. When his wife receives a letter from the woman too, the director feels he must confront this mysterious stranger. And so he takes his wife along to find the girl in Newcastle. Somehow, this motivation seems forced. Could he not have tried to ignore the whole thing? The confrontation with the young woman is well-acted but does not have a ring of truth about it, nor does the relationship with the director's own wife, which is utterly devoid of chemistry. It's all rather artificial and unconvincing. When the explanation of the mystery comes, it's too little too late.
To call FINGER OF GUILT a film noir would be stretching the term too far. And there is little here that points toward the fascinating psychological 'chamber dramas' of Losey's great period. Perhaps some day the original version will surface and the film will live up to its reputation as one of this director's better (if not best) films.
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