It's Britain, 1953. Upon his return to work following a heart attack, irrepressible barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, known as a barrister for the hopeless, takes on a murder case, much to the exasperation of his medical team, led by his overly regulated private nurse, Miss Plimsoll, who tries her hardest to ensure that he not return to his hard living ways - including excessive cigar smoking and drinking - while he takes his medication and gets his much needed rest. That case is defending American war veteran Leonard Vole, a poor, out of work, struggling inventor who is accused of murdering his fifty-six year old lonely and wealthy widowed acquaintance, Emily French. The initial evidence is circumstantial but points to Leonard as the murderer. Despite being happily married to East German former beer hall performer Christine Vole, he fostered that friendship with Mrs. French in the hopes that she would finance one of his many inventions to the tune of a few hundred pounds. It thus does ... Written by
While it is generally supposed that Agatha Christie chose the name Vole after the ratlike rodent of the same name, in fact the word has several other meanings also relevant to this character. In cards, a "vole" means the winning by one player of all the tricks of a game. And the expression "go the vole" can mean either to venture everything on the chance of great rewards, or to try one thing after another, usually a variety of occupations - all perfect descriptions of Christie's ingeniously named "Leonard Vole". See more »
In the first courtroom scene, the clerk twice states that the murder of Emily Jane French occurred in "the county of London". The County of London was known to both Sherlock Holmes and Horace Rumpole. It was run by the London County Council from 1889-1965, was comprised of over two dozen boroughs (Hampstead to Greenwich to Chelsea), and much to Leonard Vole's chagrin, was home to the Central Criminal Courts, the Old Bailey. In 1965, the County of London became the larger, Greater London, which it still is. Administered by the Greater London Council from 1965-86, it has been run since 2000 by the Greater London Authority, headed by a directly-elected mayor and assembly. For reasons of tradition and vested interest, the old City of London, now a square mile of banks, brokerage houses and the Tower, remains a separate entity. See more »
Before the film begins, a message appears onscreen saying that to avoid ruining the effect of the surprise ending, patrons should not take their seats during the last few minutes of the movie. See more »
I'm not sure I have the ability to adequately praise this film. The original short story(rather unremarkable, actually)has been expanded into a magnificent example of Hollywood entertainment at its best. In addition to perhaps the finest line-up of character actors ever assembled(next to Cukor's David Copperfield, that is), we get Laughton and Dietrich at the top of their form. The person who criticised Lanchester's performance as "annoying" missed the point entirely. Miss Plimsoll is meant to be annoying! Also, what's with all the bad-mouthing of Tyrone Power? "Hammy"; "terrible"; "worst performance ever". These are the perceptive IMDb reviews? Only one of you got it right: it's hammy because Leonard Vole is the one acting, not Power! For 95% of the film, the character is dissembling, only showing his true colors at the end. Of course it looks hammy: Vole isn't a born actor like his wife. And to all those know-it-alls who called this film mediocre and predictable, I look forward to your upcoming film projects which I'm sure will be paragons of excellence and worthy to be set alongside classics of the golden age.
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