7.9/10
36
4 user 2 critic

Two Living, One Dead (1961)

| Drama | 1964 (USA)
Three Post Office employees are at work when the facility is held up. The robber kills the supervisor and knocks out another employee. The third one offers no resistance and survives ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Helen Berger
...
Andersson
...
...
Rogers
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Esther Kester
Noel Willman ...
Johnson
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Miss Larsen
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Miss Larousse
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John Kester
Derek Francis ...
Broms
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Nils Lindwall
Marianne Nielsen ...
Miss Lind
...
Peter Bathurst ...
Engelhardt
Georg Skarstedt ...
Torp
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Storyline

Three Post Office employees are at work when the facility is held up. The robber kills the supervisor and knocks out another employee. The third one offers no resistance and survives unscathed. Afterwards he begins to wonder if his refusal to resist was a prudent move to preserve his family, or an act of cowardice, as many in the town believe. The resulting conflict begins to tear apart his family. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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A dead Hero - or a live Coward?

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Drama

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1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asalto a mano armada  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

Despite being directed by one of the most eminent British directors of its day and featuring a number of well-known British actors, this film was never given a cinema release in Britain. See more »

Connections

Remake of To levende og en død (1937) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A robbery corrodes the marriage of Patrick McGoohan and Virginia McKenna
20 June 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie is available only in the trading market in an adequate print that's blipped out from a TV broadcast. It's not a noir but it will probably be appreciated by noir aficionados and certainly by McGoohan fans. I thought it was a strong showcase for his capacity to portray a tortured soul under severe pressure.

Anthony Asquith, a name associated with high quality, wrote and directed. This picture is not really a noir; but it has some features in common with noir, namely, a crime lies at the story's center and its aftermath has marked effects on the principals. More than that, the story shows the dominance of falsity, self-doubt, social pressure, guilt, misperception, weakness and ostracism in human relations as a consequence of the crime. Some noir films also explore such themes at both personal and social levels.

A very good plot summary of this already is on IMDb. There are only 3 reviews there. Patrick McGoohan stars along with Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers and Alf Kjellin. All are excellent in this strong psychological drama that has the depth of a stage play. They all show emotion, and McKenna is especially notable in conveying a somewhat weak woman who has settled for less than what she really wants materially. McKenna and Travers had been married for 4 years and stayed married until his death in 1994. Here she is playing the wife of a postal clerk, McGoohan. They are happily married with one little boy about 7, but they have limited means and opportunities. McGoohan's ambition is to become the new postmaster and he stands to achieve that being senior to Travers who also doesn't have the capabilities for the job.

Travers, McGoohan and Peter Vaughan work at a postal bank which is robbed. Vaughan is shot and killed. Travers has a minor head laceration. McGoohan was in the back room at the time. After he sees that Vaughan has been shot, the masked robber confronts him at gunpoint and he hands over the cash box. The postmaster and the town view Travers and Vaughan as heroes and McGoohan as a coward. At first he defends his behavior, but then he develops doubts about himself and this spreads to McKenna, corroding their marriage badly. Travers is promoted to postmaster, striking a major blow at McGoohan and McKenna. So does the ostracism of their child at school. The story develops further when McGoohan meets a stranger, Alf Kjellin, and strikes up an unusual friendship in which each man expresses his feelings about their predicaments by acting as if they were talking about friends of theirs. Kjellin is effective in conveying his own peculiar torment.

Altogether this is an interesting story that succeeds in exploring a number of themes in some depth. By the way, for some reason the story is set in a Swedish town but it could as well have been set in England or even a small town in America.


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