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"Crimson Witness" stars Peter Lawford as Ernie Mullett, whose got the looks to succeed, only to watch his younger brother Farnum (Roger C. Carmel) get all the accolades. First, Ernie loses his job, his wife (Martha Hyer), and even his mistress (Julie London) to his overachieving brother, who adds to Ernie's bitterness by cleverly deducing how much his older sibling had embezzled from the plant. The embittered Ernie concocts a murderous scheme to eliminate Farnum once and for all, using his latest secretary (Joanna Moore) for the perfect alibi. But alas, the best laid plans do go awry, as there is indeed a 'crimson witness' that reveals Ernie's guilt. Roger C. Carmel was best remembered for two appearances as Harcourt Fenton Mudd on the popular STAR TREK, in "Mudd's Women" and "I, Mudd." Hollywood veteran Alan Baxter plays the plant supervisor, with lovely Nancy Hsueh ("Targets") in a tiny part as his secretary.
Peter Lawford is perfect as someone who is smugly happy with himself at
being more successful then he deserves to be and then suddenly has it
all brutally taken from him by someone who, amazingly, is truly less
likable than he is.
And it works, you do actually root for Lawford as his pompous brother, played by Star Trek pseudo comedy recurring character actor Carmel. Carmel calmly but viciously quotes various philosophers to justify his own crappy behavior and things just seem to get worse and worse for Lawford. You do detest the guy and his big smarmy, I-got-you-now, grin.
But it's all kind of claustrophobic in a cheap way and their corporate rivalry doesn't have any real urgency to it but the actors and writing makes it hold your interest most of the way. Not much style to the direction, there is one kind of long camera move that does stand out.
The story does have a few surprises to it, though none of them really work as shocks, at least it's not totally predictable.
The ending though is not so great and pretty much a standard type of TV ending but the show is worth watching. I've never been much of a Lawford fan but this stands out to me as a perfect use of his persona and well acted from him as well. I also admit I've never been a fan of Carmel either but he's very good here and has a layer of meanness that is lacking in his Star Trek, Mudd character. So this show won me over due to these two guys rising beyond my low expectations.
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