|Index||3 reviews in total|
"Crimson Witness" stars Peter Lawford as Ernie Mullett, who has 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 frustration 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.
Somebody in production had a sense of humor and the absurd. After all,
who would think balding, fat Roger Carmel (Farnum) would be more
attractive to women than sleekly handsome Peter Lawford (Ernie). What,
for goodness sake, would fellow rat-packer Frank Sinatra say. But here,
Farnum not only bests brother Ernie with his wife (Hyer) and mistress
(London), but gets him demoted so that tubby can take his place in the
company. With that kind of humiliation, what's Ernie going to do. I've
got to hand it to playboy Lawford for taking such an out-of-character,
Okay, maybe the story's not too plausible. Still, we can't be sure where it's headed, so interest is maintained. Plus, there're the three babes. Maybe because they're all blonde and shapely, I had some trouble keeping track (poor me). All in all, there may be no trademark atmosphere nor eerie effects, but there is a nice slice of irony highlighting a seemingly trivial character detail. Thus, the hour remains an unpredictable oddity, especially for fans of Lawford.
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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