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Guilty by Suspicion (1991)

PG-13 | | Drama | 15 March 1991 (USA)
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David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Bunny Baxter
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Dorothy Nolan
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Felix Graff
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Paulie Merrill
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Larry Nolan
Ben Piazza ...
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Joe Lesser
Barry Primus ...
Bert Alan
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Chairman Wood
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Congressman Tavenner
Brad Sullivan ...
Congressman Velde
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Ray Karlin
...
Felicia Barron (as Roxann Biggs)
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Storyline

David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and he is unable to work until cleared. Before being called, his highest priority had been his work to the extent of leaving his wife (Annette Bening) and son (Luke Edwards) alone for months at a time. He initially refuses to implicate others or himself in a private meeting with Roy Cohn and a studio lawyer. This decision initially to stick to his principles first leaves him unable to work in his profession, even with films and producers he never would have worked with before. Harassment by the FBI leaves him unable to work on Broadway, with advertising agencies, or even in a small film repair shop. Finally, having fallen so far, and tempted with a new offer to direct a film from his old studio (if he testifies), he agrees to go before the Committee, initially planning to ... Written by Mike Harris <mharris@injersey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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All it took was a whisper.

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Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

15 March 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Schuldig bei Verdacht  »

Box Office

Gross:

$9,480,198 (USA)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This Robert De Niro - Martin Scorsese collaboration is one of few where Scorsese does not direct the film nor even performs producing duties as a producer, with Scorsese appearing only in a small acting role as a film director. See more »

Goofs

Before going to London, Joe is seen editing the classic The Boy with the Green Hair, but the movie was already released in 1948 and Guilty by Suspicion story takes place in the 1950's. See more »

Quotes

David Merrill: Upset? Why should I be upset? You've only ruined my life. Why should I be upset?
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Connections

References Viva Zapata! (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT
Written and Performed by Nat 'King' Cole
Lyrics by Irving Mills
Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
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User Reviews

Interesting but too earnest, safe and middle-of-the-road
12 April 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In 1947 the House Committee on Un-American Activities began an investigation into Communism in Hollywood. Shortly after this director David Merrill returns from filming abroad. It is not long before he is targeted for having attended "a few meetings" a few years ago. The approach is softly, softly with the committee just wanting Merrill to name some more names for them. When he refuses to help, he finds himself gradually cut out of studios and projects, with fewer and fewer people willing to take his calls.

The period of history around which this film is set is an interesting one and one that is worth knowing about as part of the whole "learning from history" ideal. However this is not the same as the film itself being good because unfortunately it is not what I would have liked. It relies too heavily on the informative nature of the recreation of the period rather than developing an interesting script with realistic characters. It doesn't help that the film tries to be all very serious and respectful but does rather fail and ends up coming over all earnest and self important. The script also tries not to really upset anyone who didn't take the moral stance of the fictional Merrill by just focusing on him even though it would have been a lot more interesting if it had had outrage, bitterness and realism at its heart.

Winkler directs without a great deal of style and his courtroom scene is average where it should have been the best scene of the film. De Niro works his material hard and makes for an engaging lead, however it is the lack of depth and complexity in his material that limits his performance. This is more or less true of the rest of the cast which, although starry, doesn't really provide anyone in particular with an opportunity to mark themselves out. Bening, Wendt, Wettig, Wanamaker, Sizemore, Scorsese, Cooper and others are good presences but not much more than that.

Overall then an interesting film in so much as it informs about an important period of history. However it is all very earnest and safe and lost a lot of potential for me. The cast is starry but the material is middle-of-the-road and didn't give anyone the complexity and outrage that the subject deserved.


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