Saturday, August 16, 2003


This Fritz Lang thriller has many trappings of film noir (although with a female lead) but despite a strong opening, it's not as moody or intense as it should be, turning into more ordinary melodrama along the way. Anne Baxter gets dumped, via mail, by her boyfriend in Korea. Depressed, she gets a phone call from artist Raymond Burr, who thinks he's talking to her roommate (Ann Sothern). Baxter meets Burr for a date, gets quite drunk, and winds up at his place. He gets too forceful with her, she defends herself with a poker, then passes out. The next morning, Burr is dead and Baxter assumes she killed him. Slowly, a web of circumstantial evidence closes in around her (with George Reeves as a cop putting the clues together) and she decides to trust Richard Conte, a reporter who promises to clear her name. The paranoid atmosphere is well done, with lots of scenes of phones and evesdropping (Baxter & Sothern are telephone operators). It's perhaps a little too clear to us that Baxter is innocent, though there is some nice misdirection involving Sothern's character. Ultimately, the identity of the killer (a minor, left-field character) is unimportant; the relationship between Baxter and Conte is the center of the last half of the film. Jeff Donnell is the third roommate and Nat King Cole has a cameo singing the title song at the title cafe (which is otherwise not terribly important to the plot). Baxter is good, as is Sothern, who looks much younger than her years. OK, but not terribly compelling.

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