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Moss Rose is directed by Gregory Ratoff and adapted to screenplay by Niven Busch, Jules Furthman and Tom Reed from the novel The Crime of Laura Saurelle written by Joseph Shearing. It stars Peggy Cummins, Victor Mature, Ethel Barrymore, Vincent Price, Margo Woode, George Zucco, Patricia Medina and Rhys Williams. Music is by David Buttolph and cinematography by Joseph MacDonald.
Somebody is killing Michael Drego's (Mature) lovers and leaving behind a bible and a compressed dried moss rose. When her dancer friend is one of the victims, Belle Adair (Cummins) thinks she knows who the killer is and sets about blackmailing him for an unusual request...
British set Gothic noir pulsing with maternal pangs and whodunit shenanigans, Moss Rose has much to recommend to the like minded adult. Lets not beat around the bush, though, motivations of the principal players are decidedly weak and the police fare little better in the brain department.
However, once one settles into the atmosphere brought out by MacDonald's (Niagra/Pickup On South Street) beautiful photography - and got tuned into Cummins' brash London accent - then it can sustain interest. It's more successful as a mood piece when out on the London streets than it is at the Drego mansion, though the period design of costuming and sets is most appealing.
Mature often came in for some stick for his acting, but I have sometimes thought much of it was unfair. Here though he is not quite right for the role, it feels like what it is, a name on the poster to draw the punters in. But his performance still works on sombre terms, besides which, Cummins and the wonderful Barrymore pretty much dominate proceedings anyway.
Price fans should note that he isn't in it much, and even then it's late in the picture, but he's suitably stylish and you can't help thinking he probably should have had the Michael Drego role instead! Meanwhile Ratoff (Black Magic) directs without fuss and histrionic filler.
An enjoyable ride with visual treats along the way, with a finale to nudge you to the edge of your seat. 7/10
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