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... See full summary »
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>
Late Ladd thriller tries hard, but can't overcome false steps and implausibility
With both its star Alan Ladd and its director Michael Curtiz nearing the end of their careers, The Man in the Net has a valedictory feel that surely wasn't intended. Ladd looks puffy and seems bored by issues that are literally vital to him (and his sprints through the woods look labored and abbreviated). Behind the camera, Curtiz fares a bit better; the old pro (Casablanca, Mildred Pierce) knows how to shape a story and sustain tension, but he didn't bother to plaster over the cracks in the far-fetched screenplay by Reginald Rose.
Ladd plays a commercial artist who has moved to rural Connecticut to pursue his dream of becoming a serious painter; another reason for leaving New York's `rat race' was the gin-fueled nervous breakdown of his wife (Carolyn Jones). She still chafes under their genteel poverty when she knows he could make big bucks by returning to his old job. She takes her revenge in a clandestine affair (all the while trying to look and act like Bette Davis as Rosa Moline in Beyond The Forest).
When Ladd takes a commuter train into the city to turn down the job and incidentally to visit her psychiatrist (isn't it customary for the patient to go?), he returns to find all his paintings slashed and a typewritten note telling him she's left for good. But then a suitcase full of her clothes is found burning at the local dump, and other evidence points to foul play. The townspeople, who range from rural bumpkins to the country gentry, jump to the conclusion that the aloof Ladd murdered Jones. They profess shock at Ladd's revelation that she was a drinker, even though she has already staged a drunken scene at a big party where the hosts know her well enough to have a `special tomato juice' waiting for her.
Then we're asked to buy the spectacle of this Connecticut town, in 1959, turning into a Balkan village, with a lynch mob gathered in pursuit of a short, middle-aged white male. Luckily for Ladd, he's forged bonds of trust with a bevy of children whom he's forever sketching in the bosky glades (this seems a stretch, as he appears as stiff and uncomfortable being with them as they do being in front of a camera). They hide him in a surprisingly spacious and well-appointed cave they use as their clubhouse, and, at his bidding, undertake a series of ruses to smoke out the real killer. There's enough going on in Man in the Net to keep you watching, including Charles McGraw as a surly sheriff, but it's not fresh enough to make you suspend your considerable disbelief.
23 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?