On trial for murdering his girlfriend, philandering stockbroker Larry Ballentine takes the stand to claim his innocence and describe the actual, but improbable sounding, sequence of events that led to her death.
Police surround the apartment of apparent murderer Joe Adams, who refuses to surrender although escape appears impossible. During the siege, Joe reflects on the circumstances that led him to this situation.
Barbara Bel Geddes,
A girl has been murdered. A woman cannot remember a man who claims to be her husband. Her uncle hosts a radio murder mystery show called "The Unsuspected". Who killed the girl? Why? And who is this mystery husband?Written by
Years ago I actually saw a paperback version of the novel by Charlotte Armstrong that this movie is based on...and foolishly I did not buy it. That was before I saw it on television (about 1979). It rarely is shown, possibly because it's excellent title is overshadowed by two other excellent films THE UNINVITED and THE UNFORGIVEN (not to mention the television series and Kevin Costner film THE UNTOUCHABLES).
Victor Grandison (known to his admirers, friends, and loving family as "Grandy") hosts a radio program which retells classic true murder cases from America's and Britain's past. He is based (like Waldo Lydecker, Sheridan Whiteside, and - to an extent - Addison DeWitt) on Alexander Woolcott, the critic and member of the Algonquin Set and radio host ("The Town Cryer") who loved to discuss old murder cases too (in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER Woolcott/Whiteside meets Lizzy Borden/Elizabeth Sedley). Grandy is the guardian for two nieces, Audrey Totter (married to the frequently drunken Hurd Hatfield), and Joan Caulfield. Caulfield is presently abroad, but word has come back that she was killed in a fire. On top of this, Grandy's secretary has apparently committed suicide - although Totter is not quite sure it was a suicide. Shortly afterward, a man shows up (Ted North) claiming to be Caulfield's husband (and, if she is dead, heir to her estate being handled by guardian Rains). Then Caulfield shows up - back from the dead as it were - and she can't recall marrying North!
The film's villain is not difficult to fathom - Rains has no real rival figures to play against here for that honor. Jack Lambert gives good support as Rains' criminal assistant.
Several comments are made about the very witty screenplay, particularly Constant Bennett's lines. But there are other moments of humor for some of the other characters, including one for Rains which caused me to momentarily feel some compassion for him. In one of his schemes, he has to isolate a potential victim in his country mansion. His butler Kent (Harry Lewis) will probably be upstairs in his apartment that night. With his kindest looking face, Rains goes over to hard working Lewis and says that he needs to relax and gives him two tickets to his radio program on the night the mansion has to be empty. Lewis is speechless for a moment, but then says something "unexpected". "Thank you Mr. Grandison," says Lewis/Kent, "but I have to admit that I don't think I'll take them." Rains is amazed. "Why not?", he asks. "Well, you see Mr. Grandison, I know it sounds odd but I have never listened to your program at all." Rains face is beginning to redden up a bit. "The fact is Mr. Grandison," says Lewis/Kent, "Your murder stories scare me too much!" Rains has heard enough by this time. This is more than just clearing his house for his own private murder plot - it's his reputation at stake here. "Let's put it this way Kent." Rains says with white pursed lips, "Do you like your job here?" Kent took the tickets, and Rains looked satisfied if a bit less than amused.
Good film this.
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