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.
A secretive widower hires a governess for his children, a willful boy and impressionable girl. Strange occurrences and the governess's curiosity lead her to unlock the secrets of the mysterious and uninhabited brownstone next door.
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 first American troops killed in the Vietnam War were shot during a screening of this film in Bien Hoa on July 8, 1959. When a soldier turned on the lights to change reels, Vietcong guerrillas fired into the building, killing Major Dale Buis and Sergeant Chester Ovnand. See more »
Pretentious courtroom drama can't live up to steamy opening
By far the best few minutes in The Tattered Dress occur in its swift, provocative prologue. In filthy-rich Desert Valley, California, there's an illicit tryst (where a bodice actually gets ripped); a fight between the adulterous blonde and her jealous husband; and the stalking and slaying of the popular young man who cuckolded him. When a hotshot mouthpiece from New York rolls into town to defend the killer, on the grounds that he was only avenging his wife's rape, it promises to be down-and-dirty fun, like Anatomy of Murder a couple years later.
No such luck. The trial is but a plot point, winning lawyer Jeff Chandler not only an acquittal for his client but the everlasting enmity of the town sheriff and political boss (Jack Carson). Chandler finds himself framed for bribing a juror and ill-advisedly chooses to defend himself. To his side rushes Jeanne Crain, playing that most thankless of roles, the loyal ex-wife. Though there's some welcome noirish violence, the movie has aspirations to being a big courtroom drama where Chandler fights for his reputation, his self-respect, and "principle."
Turning Chandler into the central character proves a colossal miscalculation. He can't begin to impersonate a legal legend who's been compared to Clarence Darrow; though he sweats and strains to work up a full head of steam in his flat, wide skull, he convinces only the jurors -- never us viewers.
Elaine Stewart, as the trampy trophy-wife, and Gail Russell, as the bribed juror, get tossed aside, as does Crain. Only Carson emerges unscathed; once again, as in a long line of supporting roles, he uses his affable, average-joe persona to hide the ruthless schemer inside. When Chandler turns the ripped dress of the original trial into a metaphor for the "tattered" garb of the blind statue of Justice, it's clear that this movie is giving itself airs because it has nothing else to give.
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