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.
Nick Cochran, an American in exile in Macao, has a chance to restore his name by helping capture an international crime lord. Undercover, can he mislead the bad guys and still woo the handsome singer/petty crook, Julie Benson?
Josef von Sternberg,
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 <email@example.com>
'The Tattered Dress' is the second of four programmers released by Universal in 1957 directed by Jack Arnold, who had started the year extremely auspiciously with 'The Incredible Shrinking Man'.
'The Tattered Dress' was the first of two films he made set in the deep south: the latter being 'Man in the Shadow', in which Jeff Chandler played the honest sheriff of a fictitious cow town called Spurline who crosses swords with a ruthless local ranch owner played by Orson Welles. In 'The Tattered Dress' it's the sheriff (played by Jack Carson) who's the heavy; and Chandler a lawyer from New York come to defend a wealthy spiv for the murder of a popular local sports hero to whom his trashy wife had lately taken a shine.
After a glorious opening sequence resembling a series of dime novel covers of the period, Chandler arrives in Desert View, Nevada; and the moment he steps off the train the unfriendly looks he gets tell us we're in 'Mississippi Burning' territory. Like most Hollywood films since time immemorial it takes a remarkably cynical view of lawyers and the law ("I could spend hours telling you of innocent men imprisoned and executed because of clumsy and uninspired defences"), but treats its often lurid subject matter in a rather lacklustre and talky fashion. Jeffrey Chandler isn't the most convincing of casting as a cynical and ruthless lawyer whose motto is "If you're guilty get James Gordon Blane" (it would have been perfect for Carson, actually); and most of the excellent supporting cast aren't really at their best, with the notable exception of Edward Andrews in a very small part and Gail Russell (whose vulnerable appearance is enhanced by the regrettable fact that she was in reality drinking herself to death at the time) as a pawn in a dastardly plot by crooked sheriff Jack Carson to cook Chandler's goose.
Two nice uses by Arnold of the Cinemascope screen were the way Chandler's until now estranged wife Jeanne Crain signals that their conjugal relations are about to resume by firmly pulling shut the curtains in his hotel suite; and the slight but perceptible little sigh of relief visible on the part of the court stenographer (played by Robert Haines) when Chandler's passionate summary to the jury finally ends.
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