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At a time when noir production was converting to TV, Lippert hooked up with England's Hammer Films. (And that's before Hammer hooked up with Dracula and Frankenstein.) Judging from this effort, budget minded Lippert got a lot more bang for their buck overseas.
Compared with traditional noir, the settings here are much more naturalistic than expressionistic. There's little of the usual menace of light and shadow. Instead, most scenes are shot on location with natural lighting, except for the climactic fog-bound sequence. This undercuts atmosphere and mood, staples of standard noir. As a result, it's the fateful story that's highlighted. And since the story is narrated in flashback, it seems the outcome is pre- determined in some metaphysical sense.
Sure, you've seen the story before, as others point out. A rich man's slutty wife (Brooke) conspires to kill him with key help from a luckless fall guy (Nicol). Sounds like Double Indemnity (1944) even down to the double-cross. Still, the screenplay is good enough to hold interest. And was there ever a more stately ice queen than Hillary Brooke. It's hard to see her ever unwinding enough for intimacy. And therein lies a problem. Too bad the film couldn't show some stage of real melt from her, like a dash of undress or even mussed-up mascara. Nicol too is pretty low-key for a guy obsessed. But then this is 1954, not exactly the anything goes of more recent vintage. In my book, it's luckless Sidney James who steals the film, with his nicely modulated peek at a doomed man. I like the way the script only later fills in why he's so seemingly indifferent to his wife's very public affairs. That way we're left really curious for a well-timed period.
Anyhow, the movie's much better than the lowly two-stars out of four that TCM rates it. Then again, maybe I'm just a sucker for any noir with a well-turned ankle.
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