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This is the story of a 33 year old man, Jim Fuller, released from prison after serving a three year term for intent to commit child molestation. Fuller is assisted by the prison psychiatrist in obtaining a position. He does well in this position and falls in love with the secretary of the owner of the company. A child is molested and beaten in the town where he now lives and the police pick him up for questioning. He has an alibi and is released, but a reporter who covered his former trial recognizes him. The reporter begins to follow him and reports that Fuller spent time alone with the daughter of his girl friend. Written by
Dennis Beaman <email@example.com>
Stuart Whitman, Rod Steiger, and Maria Schell star in "The Mark," a 1961 film from 20th Century Fox, filmed in England.
Whitman is Jim Fuller, who has been released from prison after being convicted of intent to molest a child. His psychiatrist, Dr. McNally, believes him to be cured and continues to see him in an attempt to help him get back into society and have some sort of a life.
The above is what makes the film seem dated, but in the case of the Whitman character, maybe not. Today we believe that this tendency is incurable or nearly incurable. In the case of Jim Fuller, a troubled man, he took a girl for a ride in a car, but backed out of doing anything. He brought the girl home. Seen in that light, it's possible this incident came out of something in his past (as we're told in flashbacks) and wasn't the result of some sort of perversion and therefore could be eradicated.
Jim has a job from a sympathetic employer and proves himself excellent at it. He rents a room from an older couple. And he meets a woman in his office, Ruth (Maria Schell) whom he tentatively starts to date. They fall in love, and he is introduced to her young daughter, Janie (Amanda Black), who is crazy about him.
When a young woman is kidnapped, Jim is brought in by the police but he has an alibi. Unfortunately a reporter who knows who he is starts stalking him. When he sees Jim at an amusement park with Janie acting completely above board, he writes a lurid story.
This is a well-done film with a sympathetic performance by Whitman, who received an Oscar nomination. He does a beautiful job as a sad, insecure, sometimes angry man who doesn't quite have the confidence in himself that his doctor has, but wants to believe he's okay. Rod Steiger is simply great, low-key (unlike The Big Knife where he chewed any scenery available) -- a perfect psychiatrist, patient, friendly, supportive.
Maria Schell was supposed to be a star in the U.S., but it didn't happen. A friend of mine recalls the night that Schell and Audrey Hepburn were given a party to introduce them to Hollywood. Norma Shearer, retired for over ten years by then, came with her ski instructor husband. She took off her gown's evening jacket and danced the night away. Audrey and Maria sat up against the wall all night.
At any rate, Schell is lovely here. Ruth, too, is afraid of love after being widowed. She falls for Jim knowing he was in prison -- but not why -- and trusts him with Janie. Can she stick with him once the story is published? Some trivia: Whitman lost the Oscar to Schell's brother Maximillian for his marvelous performance in Judgment at Nuremburg.
Excellent film. You're really pulling for Jim all the way through. A lost film well worth seeing.
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