Tuesday, May 14, 2002


A tidy little early sound thriller, with obvious stage roots, in which Charles Laughton plays a weak-willed, middle-aged man in dire financial straits who murders a visiting nephew (a very young Ray Milland) who has just come into a large sum of money. Laughton and his family are able to live comfortably for a while but some obstacles come between Laughton and happiness. For one, he can't move from his modest home to more upscale diggings because Milland's body is buried in the yard. Next, he begins an affair with a tarty French woman (Verree Teasdale) who winds up blackmailing Laughton to get some money for herself. I kept waiting for Laughton to kill someone else (his wife, his mistress) but the plot takes a surprising turn on its way to an ironically fulfilling ending. Maureen O'Sullivan is quite good as Laughton's snobbish daughter. Laughton, as usual, is superb. This doesn't show up very often, so if you're a fan of stage-mysteries turned movies (WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, WAIT UNTIL DARK), catch this one if if comes around.

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