Merle Kramer works as a stenographer for a psychiatrist. She is casually dating Karl Benson, a private eye and former cop. Merle mentions in passing that one of her boss's patients is an author with recurring dreams of murdering his wife, and she includes the fact that the wife owns valuable jewels. When the wife is found murdered in a manner identical to that of her husband's dream, the husband is naturally the prime suspect. But as the investigation of the police and insurance investigator Joe Cooper proceeds, it turns out that several people in the case, including Merle, are not what they seem.Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Manhandled" is a decent 1949 film with a terrific cast that could have been really excellent. Unfortunately, it suffers from a lack of focus from director Lewis Foster. Dorothy Lamour plays the secretary to a psychiatrist (Harold Vermilyea) who is treating an author (Alan Napier). The man has a recurring dream that he kills his wife (Irene Hervey) with a large perfume bottle. The doctor thinks he needs money and might be after his wife's jewels, worth somewhere in the range of $100,000.
Lamour, whose character's name is Merl Kramer, tells a detective in her apartment building (Dan Duryea) about the strange case. Any of us who have ever seen Dan Duryea in a film know that this is a mistake on her part. As could have been predicted, the wife of the author winds up dead, the jewels stolen, and one of the pieces winds up in Merl's couch. She pawns it and finds herself in deep trouble.
As you might be able to tell from the above description, the director isn't the only problem here. The script doesn't hold up to the most casual of scrutiny. Granted Merl doesn't tell the Duryea character the name of her boss' client, but she certainly would know what goes on in the office is confidential. The big perfume bottle as the murder weapon is pretty lame. The worst aspect for me is the diagnosis of the psychiatrist. A man and his wife are living under the same roof, but they're estranged. She's seeing somebody else, in fact, and the psychiatrist comes to the conclusion that the author wants his wife's jewels. That's some stretch.
It's always sad to see what happened to some of the glamorous female film stars - Lamour here is all of 34 and relegated to smaller films. Her character has a mysterious past which we never really learn about, another script hole. Sterling Hayden plays an insurance investigator and does a good job. Art Smith is the police detective and very funny.
Kind of a mish-mash, and a convoluted plot that could have emerged as a neat twist in other hands, but some good scenes nonetheless.
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