It's Britain, 1953. Upon his return to work following a heart attack, irrepressible barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, known as a barrister for the hopeless, takes on a murder case, much to the exasperation of his medical team, led by his overly regulated private nurse, Miss Plimsoll, who tries her hardest to ensure that he not return to his hard living ways - including excessive cigar smoking and drinking - while he takes his medication and gets his much needed rest. That case is defending American war veteran Leonard Vole, a poor, out of work, struggling inventor who is accused of murdering his fifty-six year old lonely and wealthy widowed acquaintance, Emily French. The initial evidence is circumstantial but points to Leonard as the murderer. Despite being happily married to East German former beer hall performer Christine Vole, he fostered that friendship with Mrs. French in the hopes that she would finance one of his many inventions to the tune of a few hundred pounds. It thus does ...Written by
In the original stage play, the treacherous wife's name was Romaine Vole, rather than Christine. See more »
(at around 9 mins) Inside his chamber, Sir Wilfrid lights his cigar and Leonard Vole locks the door to make sure that Miss Plimsoll can't enter the room and catch him smoking. Later, (at around 15 mins) Wilfrid leaves his chamber without first unlocking the door. Actually, Vole does not lock the door, but puts the keyhole cover in place to stop Plimsoll spying through the keyhole. See more »
Before the film begins, a message appears onscreen saying that to avoid ruining the effect of the surprise ending, patrons should not take their seats during the last few minutes of the movie. See more »
I love it when a movie captivates me, carries me along, then surprises me at the end. This is a masterpiece of human maneuvering. It has outstanding acting and a plot to die for. This is a fairly pedestrian Agatha Christie short story. I'm not saying it's not a wonderful story, just that it doesn't come to life like it does on the screen. Charles Laughton is the wonder barrister who is taking the case, even though he is in poor health. The murder case seems a relatively simple one until we begin to trip over the many layers left lying on the path. Marlene Dietrich does a masterful job in all her roles (I won't say anymore than that so I don't spoil the ending). Tyrone Power is able to balance his pathos and his potential guilt. The beauty of the movie is that it never takes itself too seriously. There are some modestly funny subplots and a great deal of careful investigation. I guarantee you that once you start watching, you won't be able to turn it off.
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