Virgil Renchler owns most of the town providing a thriving economy. When his men go too far and kill one of his migrant workmen, the sheriff goes after him even if it means his job and everyone else's.
Drifting floozy Billie Nash gets a bar job where she seduces the owner's husband by convincing him to defraud his drunkard wife in order to elope together to Mexico but a sleazy neighbor with designs on Billie jeopardizes her plans.
After a wild night, wealthy Michael Reston's adulterous wife Charleen comes home with her ripe young body barely concealed by a dress in rags; murder results. Top defense lawyer J.G. Blane, whose own marriage exists in name only, arrives in Desert View, Nevada to find the townsfolk and politically powerful Sheriff Hoak distinctly hostile to the Restons. In due course, Blane discovers he's been "taken for a ride," and that quiet desert communities can be deadly...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Hollywood Reporter review mistakenly states that 'The Tattered Dress' , a black-and-white film, was shot in Technicolor. A 27 July 1956 an HR news item adds Carol Morris to the cast, and a 22 August 1956 HR news item states that Frankie Van was cast as a news reporter, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. (source AFI) See more »
The Tattered Dress is a very under rated film that I wish would be broadcast more often. I saw it many times during the sixties and seventies and haven't seen it for years. But the performances do stand out.
The one who stands out the most is Jack Carson. This is no doubt his best screen dramatic performance. Carson usually was cast as amiable blow hard types who usually meant well, but could be very dense. In The Tattered Dress as the mean sadistic sheriff he really should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor in this one.
Jeff Chandler plays a high price defense attorney who's come to Carson's town to defend a married couple accused of a murder that has generated national headlines. Chandler is usually well paid for his services and this is no exception.
While there Chandler makes the acquaintance of Carson. Carson's a local celebrity himself, his former gridiron exploits locally helped him first get elected sheriff. However Chandler's a real national celebrity and Carson fawns all over him.
What happens though is that Carson gives Chandler a confidence that when the trial comes, Chandler uses to impeach Carson's testimony and make him a figure of ridicule on the stand. Because of that his clients get acquitted.
Carson exacts his revenge by framing Chandler on a jury tampering charge and uses every avenue to close any loopholes Chandler might find as his own defense attorney.
The Tattered Dress is one of Jeff Chandler's best films, but as good as he is, Jack Carson gives us his career performance. He's an incredible study of pure evil in power. A person totally unable to deal with others professionally. Chandler was an attorney advocating for his clients, admittedly not a pair of the noblest creatures on earth, but in the final analysis was just doing his job. Carson can't separate that out. I've known some and worked for some people like that in real life. Bad when they get into positions of authority.
Elaine Stewart and Philip Reed are Chandler's wealthy clients who take a powder on him when he gets in a jackpot. Jeanne Crain is Chandler's estranged wife who still stands by him and Gail Russell in one of her last film roles is the woman who accuses Chandler of jury tampering. They all fill their roles nicely, but a special mention should go to George Tobias, a comedian who Chandler got off on a murder charge himself, but at the cost of his career. He serves as a gopher/confidante to Chandler and has a tragic end.
I truly wish The Tattered Dress was out on VHS or DVD. It's a terrific story that is well acted and written. Absolutely a must see for fans of Jeff Chandler and Jack Carson.
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