A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
A serial killer has been killing beautiful women in New York and the new owner of a media company offers a high ranking job to the first of his senior executives who can get the earliest scoops on the case.
When Mrs. Tremayne is mysteriously poisoned with gas, ambulance driver Frank Jessup meets her refined but sensuous stepdaughter Diane, who quickly pursues and infatuates him. Under Diane's seductive influence, Frank is soon the Tremayne chauffeur; but he begins to suspect danger under her surface sweetness. When he shows signs of pulling away, Diane schemes to get him in so deep he'll never get out.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
(00:02:56) The shadow of the microphone at the top of the headboard is visible, right after Mrs. Tremayne says "Someone tried to murder me." Then the microphone (shadow) turns to the left towards another actor. See more »
[of Diane's 'evil' stepmother]
... If she's tryin' to kill you, why did she turn on the gas in her own room first?
...To make it look as though somebody else were guilty...
Is that what you did?
Frank, are you accusing me?
I'm not accusing anybody. But if I were a cop, and not a very bright cop at that, I'd say that your story was as phony as a three dollar bill.
...How can you say that to me?
Oh, you mean after all we've been to each other?... Diane, look. I don't pretend to know what goes on ...
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Apparently shot in 18 days to ensure Jean Simmons filmed her part while still under contract to producer Howard Hughes, this is a fine film noir with a particularly memorable ending.
I wasn't sure I could believe Robert Mitchum, the king of world-weary sardonic-ism, falling so readily for the youthful charms of evil step-daughter Simmons, especially with a smart, pretty and loving girl of his own, but once I surrendered this point, it was easy, rather like Mitchum's ambulance-driver, to be persuaded to follow the plot here through to the bitter end.
I actually considered both leads to be somewhat miscast in the film, Simmons effect dulled somewhat by a rather ugly helmet of a wig and the dialogue lacks the snap of a Hammett, Chandler or even a Spillane, but the narrative is intriguing and the ambivalent natures of both the main parts strangely compelling, plus, like I said there's a surprise, no make that shock ending, to finish things off with a knockout punch.
Director Preminger mixes up some staple noir elements of a femme fatale, her stooge of a male admirer, sex, murder and mystery, employing big-close-ups, atmospheric lighting and crisply shot monochromatic sets, perhaps only faltering over a slightly dull, over-technical courtroom scene, and the miscasting already mentioned.
Nevertheless, the story crackles along and I doubt many will anticipate the climax, which certainly caught me off-guard and yet in retrospect, delivers a finish true to the genre's often nihilistic traits.
Mitchum of course is naturally very good as the ensnared Frank, the piano-playing Simmons, dressed throughout in black and white outfits, perhaps stressing the duality of her nature, a little less so.
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