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John Hamilton leaves a comfortable New York job to take up as an artist in a quiet Connecticut town. His dipso wife hates the life and falsely makes him out to be selfish, unsuccessful, and, worst, someone who hits her. When she suddenly disappears suspicion falls on him and the townsfolk take the law into their own hands. Hamilton finds his only allies are the local children he has befriended. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Alan Ladd sleepwalks through one of his last roles...
There's a nice New England feel in the Connecticut opening scenes of THE MAN IN THE NET and director Michael Curtiz makes striking visual use of the B&W camera in artfully photographing a country farmhouse with its rustic interiors full of paintings supposedly done by local artist ALAN LADD.
Ladd's wife, CAROLYN JONES, doesn't share his passion for the arts, staging quite a scene with neighbors when she breaks into a birthday party with a shiner and accuses her husband of mistreating her during one of their arguments. It provides a nice set-up for someone to eventually murder her, making Ladd look like the main suspect.
Alan Ladd, only 46 at the time, seems almost lifeless and delivers a completely stiff performance that has him befriending neighborhood kids in such a fashion that they become willing to help him avoid detection when the villagers turn on him. This aspect of the story simply rings false, as does the rest of the plot which is too pat and contrived to seem plausible. The children are not exactly adept at delivering most of their lines.
DIANE FOSTER does a nice job as a decent neighborhood woman who helps Ladd prove his innocence and CHARLES McGRAW, JOHN LUPTON and TOM HELMORE are fine as other suspects in the supporting cast.
But for a man accused of a crime he didn't commit, Ladd has all the facial animation of a department store mannequin.
Trivia note: The bit about the slashed paintings reminds me of the Ronald Colman/Ida Lupino flick THE LIGHT THAT FAILED, but Jones' emoting in the party scene is on the level of Bette Davis at her histrionic overkill.
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