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William K. Howard,
1935. David Talbot is a successful and well-respected member of the French Foreign Service, currently based in Paris. Everything in his life is going his way: he is responsible for handling a large public trust, is pegged as the next French Ambassador to Brazil, and is still in the honeymoon phase of his marriage to his newlywed bride, Lucienne Talbot. He receives a letter addressed to "Jean" - he knowing it is for him as David Talbot is the addressee on the envelope - asking for the FF1 million owed. He eventually learns that the letter is he being accused of really being Jean Pelletier, who committed a bank robbery and murder in 1922, that 1 million half the take probably owed to Pelletier's partner(s). Part of David's known history is that he was long ago treated by Dr. Andre Tessier - still a close friend - for amnesia the result of a physical trauma, and that the one person who could positively identify him did so as David Talbot, that person now deceased. Everything that Tessier...Written by
This film was first telecast in Seattle Wednesday 19 December 1956 on KING (Channel 5); it first aired in Los Angeles 9 January 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by Chicago 17 January 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), by New York City 18 January 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), by Portland OR 5 February 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), by Philadelphia 16 February 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), by New Haven CT 11 March 1957 on WNHC (Channel 8), and by Altoona PA 18 March 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10); in Minneapolis it was first televised 21 October 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9) and in San Francisco 1 March 1958 on KGO (Channel 7). See more »
Although the story takes place in 1935, all of the women's fashions and hairstyles are strictly in the 1942 mode, which was significantly different from 1935. See more »
William Powell plays David Talbot, a French diplomat. When he receives a cryptic letter seeming to ask him for repayment of an old debt, he involves the police, who capture the apparent blackmailer. When the mysterious apprehended man goes on trial for extortion, the story of David Talbot develops. He was in an accident 13 years prior, leaving him with no memory of the previous years. Because he cannot absolutely deny things attributed to him before the accident, we are not sure of the truth. It would have been interesting to see how Hitchcock might handle this story.
We wonder if Talbot, the man with he dubious past, really suffers from amnesia. The evidence, as it is revealed, pulls us back and forth. Is Talbot's behavior due to his confusion? Is he angry at the charges leveled against him? Or is he feigning forgetfulness? Perhaps every new development is bringing his memory back to him?
It is William Powell's acting that creates the ambiguity that keeps this story interesting. Hedy Lamarr, Basil Rathbone and Claire Trevor perform admirably in their supporting roles.
It's a simple premise. But the action develops the story in such a way that the viewer's interest is always engaged. Clues--at least what we think are clues--are parceled out cleverly. Powell's reactions are well-studied, always maintaining the veil that clouds his intentions. It is totally believable because we know that Talbot is probably confused too. This is a mystery worth watching.
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