Friday, August 31, 2012


A B-mystery from MGM which is notable primarily for its cast of academic characters. Harry Davenport is retiring as head of the physics department at Trent University and a handful of candidates is vying to take his place. Dorothy Peterson thinks that as a woman, she doesn't have a chance, but her lover (Theodore von Eltz) might, especially since he's also casually dating Davenport's granddaughter (Florence Rice). However, Rice is sweet on the third candidate, young Dean Jagger, just back from a trip to some Mayan ruins—though what his work has to do with physics is never made clear. The likeliest candidate is Henry Daniell, who is on the verge of a breakthrough that could prove Einstein wrong, but what no one knows is that his wife (Sara Haden, pictured with Daniell), who suffers from a heart condition, is the one who did all the work on the formula. Now, a few days before Davenport is due to make his decision, Haden gives Daniell an ultimatum: drop his sexy young mistress or she won't give him the research notes he needs to make his formula public. One night at a faculty party, he throws her dog out a second-story window to its death, and the shock causes Haden to have a fatal heart attack. Then von Eltz winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time and Daniell has to kill him, too. Jagger is the first to fall under suspicion, but luckily, Trent alumnus Edmund Lowe is present and he just happens to be a renowned detective. There are another couple of deaths before Daniell is caught, and Rice is free to canoodle with Jagger. Lowe's character is named Christopher Cross and was apparently intended to have his own mystery series, but neither the character nor the actor is very interesting and a second film was never made. The first half-hour, in which all the backstories are set up, is interesting, but when it becomes a traditional cop story (with the entrance of Nat Pendleton as the dopey sergeant), it loses some steam. Daniell and Jagger are very good, with most everyone else just serviceable. The bulk of the film is set during the course of the one night, another little novelty. [TCM]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Willy Loman (Fredric March) is a middle-aged salesman whose career has stalled; he's too tired to stay on the road but the company won’t give him a desk job. His grown son Biff (Kevin McCarthy) showed great promise in his youth, but something happened in the past that shattered him. His younger son Happy (Cameron Mitchell) holds a job but has never been able to break away from the long shadow of Biff, who, in Willy's eyes, is still the golden boy of the past. The boys worry that Willy, who has taken to talking loudly to himself, is losing touch with reality. And his long-suffering wife Linda (Mildred Dunnock) becomes upset when she finds evidence that Willy may be planning to kill himself.

Everyone has probably read this classic American play by Arthur Miller, and fans of the theater have seen either a live production (it still gets revived on Broadway every few years) or the acclaimed TV-movie version from the 80s with Dustin Hoffman. This film is difficult to find, never having been released legally on home video; apparently Arthur Miller wasn’t happy with it because it follows the play too closely, essentially being a filming of the play on sets rather than a stage. Perhaps Miller wanted the movie opened up, and that might work, but as a re-creation of the play, this version is as good, if not better, than the Hoffman version. Hoffman, not yet 50 at the time, played Willy as an old, worn-out man who looks at least 60—it's a good performance but from the first moment, he seems at death's door already so his path of decline is very short. March, who was in his early 50s, plays the role as a man of his own age—he's beaten down but not out at the opening, so his somewhat slower decline is all the more heart-rending. McCarthy (pictured to the right of Mitchell and March) is excellent as Biff, and he and March work together well to establish a surface connection that is short-circuited just under the skin (if I may mix my metaphors). Their final confrontation is especially good. Dunnock is also fine, slightly understated, pulling off the "Attention must be paid" speech to great effect. I hope someday the Miller estate allows this fine film to get a bigger audience. Until then, it's on YouTube.

Monday, August 27, 2012


In Panama, slick businessman Al Taurez (Joseph Schildkraut) runs a sailor's social organization and keeps a donation jar on his desk for an animal and bird refuge charity, but he's actually a con man pulling an insurance scam. He insures cargo on ships, then plants an explosive on the ship in the form of a radio.  When he or one of his underlings sets off a high-frequency signal from his office, the ship explodes, destroying the cargo so Taurez can get the insurance money, but also usually killing all on board. The insurance company asks playboy private eye Nick Carter (Walter Pidgeon) to investigate, and he does with the help of his bee-fancying sidekick Bartholomew (Donald Meek) and a young woman named Cora (Florence Rice) whose boyfriend (John Carroll) is the captain on a boat that just might be targeted by Taurez. 

Nick Carter is a pulp fiction detective who appeared in a series of books and magazine serials from 1886 through the 1990s, though his movie career has not been so stellar. Pidgeon played him in a rather uninspired fashion in three MGM films, this being the last, and Rice is practically a non-entity. However, as a B-movie thriller, this entry is worth seeing for its supporting cast. Meek, who usually plays passive, shy or, well, meek characters, is very good cast against type here as a fairly cool operator who pretends to be a bumbler but always comes through in the clutch. Schildkraut, who didn't normally sully himself in second-features, is excellent as the villain. Carroll makes for a solid if colorless good guy with not much to do until his ship is directly threatened at the finale. Nat Pendleton has a nice bit as one of Schildkraut's goons who is kept in the dark about the nefarious deeds, and Steffi Duna is fun as a Latin bombshell who spews out random English phrases now and then. Cecil Kellaway (pictured above behind Schildkraut) and Dwight Frye also appear. Not a bad way to spend 70 minutes on a Saturday morning.  [TCM]

Saturday, August 25, 2012


As I've probably said before, I live for the crazy off-the-wall surprises which don't crop up that often for me in the world of classic film.  When they do happen, they're usually courtesy Turner Classic Movies, as this one was. Not only is it a movie I'd never heard of, it's a two-strip Technicolor silent film from 1935 shot in Bali. If you're a film buff like I am, you'll know that running across a Technicolor film (in good shape) from that era is pretty rare, but a silent film released six years after sound became the norm in theaters is even rarer. Finally, the fact that this is actually worth watching for reasons having nothing to do with the above rare qualities is the layer of bubbles on the surface of the glass of champagne. In the mold of a film like Murnau's TABU, this combines the ethos of ethnographic filmmaking with a fictional narrative. There is no pretense that the story being acted out is real—it’s scripted—but the backgrounds (Balinese natives going to market, engaging in ritual dancing, holding a funeral ceremony) are largely shot documentary-style. The actors are amateurs and some of the camerawork feels on-the-fly, but none of that matters as the hour-long film holds your attention all the way.

We're told in title cards that this story of Bali, "isle of perpetual summer," is one of simple joyful people. Poutou is a chaste maiden and one of the participants in Legong, the Dance of the Virgins, which is held during the Temple Feast. During one religious festival, Poutou falls in love with the handsome Nyong who plays in the temple orchestra and she gives him a flower, the public sign of romantic interest (sort of like getting pinned or exchanging rings, I guess). Nyong seems to like her just fine, but when he meets her sister Saplak, he becomes smitten with her. Their father awaits his visit to ask for Nyong's hand in marriage, but when he asks for Saplak instead, the father becomes upset, realizing that Poutou will be humiliated because she made her choosing ritual in public. During what was intended to be Poutou's last virgin dance, Nyong and Saplak run away together; Poutou collapses during her dance and later, when she sees the two lovebirds leave the village together, she throws herself into the river. The last scene is an elaborate cremation ceremony in which her ashes are taken out into the ocean so her spirit can return to the village.  

The print, put together from three different source prints, is in good shape. The red-green color scheme of the two-strip method means that reds, green, oranges, and browns predominate; there are no blues or purples to be seen. Still, given the exotic island setting, the colors seem right. Though the film is silent, there is background music and occasionally, during some of the rituals, there are ambient sounds and chanting as well. The title cards alone are quite lovely. The women are topless for much of the running time, but that quickly becomes commonplace and it rarely feels sexy. The oddest element of the film for me was that there was no judgment of Nyong and Saplak for running off together; clearly, the father is upset and, of course, Poutou comes to a sad end, but the two lovers aren't really blamed for the events, and as far as we know, they live happily ever after. Quite an interesting film. [TCM/DVD]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

THE SHEIK (1921)

Arabs, we are told, dwell in happy ignorance of civilization which has passed them by. At a roundup of eligible young women,we see a wise and educated sheik, Ahmed Ben Hassan (Rudolph Valentino), allow his buddy to keep his girlfriend, then head off to the town of Biskra, gateway to the desert, to sell the rest of the women into marriage. The madcap Lady Diana and her brother Aubrey are in town and she wants adventure; Aubrey encourages her to settle down and marry though she calls marriage "captivity." When she is kept out of the casino at which Ahmed is holding the marriage market, she sneaks in disguised as a dancing girl. Ahmed is amused by her antics and he follows her as she heads off into desert with only an Arab guide. He kidnaps her and during a sandstorm plans to have his way with her, but is struck by her despair and instead just insists that she dress in Arab clothing and remain his captive. His "civilized" French friend Raoul visits and is critical of Ahmed keeping Diana; Ahmed replies, "When an Arab sees a woman he wants, he takes her." Ahmed and Diana become cordial and more so—she even writes, "Ahmed I love you" in the sand—and when Diana is captured by a bandit disguised as a holy man, Ahmed heads off to rescue her. He is successful but is injured, and as Diana helps nurse him back to health, she is told by Raoul that Ahmed was actually an orphan of English and Spanish descent, allowing her finally to express her feelings of love to him.

This is a rape/miscegenation melodrama in which both elements disappear and instead we get a story of a civilized woman falling for a lusty, primitive man. The story's plot and politics are old-fashioned and easily dismissed by today’s viewers, though we remain a little unsettled by Diana's growing identification with and attraction to her kidnapper (now called Stockholm Syndrome). The appeal of Valentino is difficult to see from this: his grins and grimaces make him seem today more like a comic relief character. He is attractive but I didn’t find him overwhelmingly sexy like audiences of the day did. Agnes Ayers, as Diana, is fine, and it’s interesting to see a relatively young Adolph Menjou as Raoul. A must-see only for its historical importance as Valentino’s breakout movie. [DVD] 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ACT ONE (1960)

Theoretically, this is the story of how playwright Moss Hart, Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author (with George S. Kaufman) of You Can't Take It with You and The Man Who Came to Dinner, got his start in the business, based on his autobiography. In 1929, young Hart still lives with his family and keeps trying to sell his dramatic plays, with no success, though he is told by an agent that his real talent is comedy. Hart takes a job as a director with an amateur theater group and works on a comic play about the film business. Big Broadway producer Sam Harris gets hold of the script and agrees to buy the rights if he'll let George Kaufman finish it with him. It takes a while for the two to gel—Hart is young and bouncy, Kaufman is older and acerbic—but eventually they get the knack of collaborating and after a few false starts, the finished play, Once in a Lifetime, is a hit. Though set during the early Depression years, the movie doesn’t much bother with getting period details right—it's in black & white, but it has a glossy 50s look to it. A young George Hamilton is ill-suited physically to play Hart, but he's appealing in the role. Jason Robards does not fare as well as Kaufman, as he's stuck mostly griping and bitching and generally being a pain in the ass. It's fun to see Burt Convy play the young Archie Leach—later to become Cary Grant—in a series of scenes which show Hart commiserating with other show biz hopefuls. The cast also includes Eli Wallach, Jack Klugman, Sam Levene, and George Segal. The score by Skitch Henderson is shrill and overblown. Occasionally interesting but generally drab and colorless.  [TCM] 

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Michael Sarrazin is a student at a New York City university; his father (Arthur Hill) and grandmother (Ruth White) are rich, conservative and powerful—though White is stuck living in a mansion in a neighborhood which has gone downhill to the point where her property is vandalized almost nightly by hooligans. Sarrazin lives with his girlfriend Barbara Hershey (pictured with Sarrazin); she's been politically radicalized by him, but now as he approaches graduation, he's backed away from politics which pisses her off.  In fact, he seems to have backed away from anything requiring committed thought or action, becoming a vaguely unhappy and passive guy whose ties to everything around him are vanishing. One rainy night, he accidently hits and kills an old woman who stepped out in traffic without looking. He does the right thing and turns himself in, and even, against the counsel of his father's powerful lawyer (E.G. Marshall), goes to the victim's family to apologize, though he is turned away by her grief-stricken daughter (Rue McClanahan) who is confused by his gesture. He goes so far as to wear a suit to his hearing to make a good impression, but the judge, seeing in him a pattern of irresponsible behavior (over 20 unpaid parking tickets were found in his glove compartment), sentences him to a year in prison. His cellmate is a state senator in for embezzlement, and he makes friends with Gilbert Lewis, a gay black man, but when Lewis is stabbed to death in the shower, Sarrazin has to go to a hearing at which he rails against injustice (as with his car accident, he sees the stabbing as an unfortunate accident) and he gets in more trouble.  When his guards let him go to the bathroom by himself, he sees an open window and escapes and makes his way to his father, grandmother, and girlfriend before deciding to escape to Mexico rather than go back and face the music.

Some critics see this as a leftist hippie anti-establishment movie, though the only hippie in sight is Sarrazin's freeloading but likable buddy (Robert Klein). Others look at it as a Kafkaesque nightmare, Sarrazin being punished by a faceless bureaucracy for no reason (though vehicular homicide is a pretty good reason for some punishment). I see this as a kind of Hamlet story: as he approaches adulthood and independence, he realizes he's in a world not of his own making—his family wants him to be something he's not—but he can't make up his mind about what he wants to be. Escaping to Mexico is just putting off the inevitable. Sarrazin is attractive and likable but by the end, I wanted to slap him and say, "Man up, asshole, and take a stand one way or another." I might not have felt that way with a different actor in the role. The other actors, including Peter White as a cousin, Sada Thompson as an aunt, David Doyle as the senator, and William Devane (channeling Jack Nicholson) as a shady pilot, are fine, and generally make the film worth seeing.  [DVD]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


When I was in college, I loved Ken Russell movies. He was the first director in whose films I could find a discernible style: over-the-top acting, grotesque supporting characters, colorful costuming and art design, outrageous emotional outbursts; all the kinds of things that attracted the attention of this young man in the process of becoming a gay adult. Thirty-five years on, I find his work not having a lasting hold on me, though part of the problem is the fact that his movies from the 70s are difficult to find so I haven’t been able to re-view many them in the DVD era. But this one aired a while back on Turner Classic in a lovely widescreen print and it held up much better than I would have expected.

Rudolph Nureyev plays silent film idol Rudolph Valentino. The film is set in 1926 at the time of his funeral which was perhaps the first modern celebrity-death media circus. As the various women in his life visit the funeral parlor, the story of his rise to fame and fortune is told in flashbacks. He starts as a taxi dancer/gigolo (with rumors about his homosexuality whispered about), becomes part of a nightclub act, humiliates the actor Fatty Arbuckle, and is discovered for the movies by screenwriter June Mathis (Felicity Kendal), who seems to be the only person who cared unselfishly for Valentino. He becomes a huge star and marries the actress Rambova (Michelle Phillips) who becomes a controlling monster and a bad influence on Valentino's career. When his masculinity is questioned in the press (he's called a "powder puff"), he challenges a reporter to a boxing match; he wins the match, barely, but does grave injury to his ulcer and dies that night, alone, at the age of 31 (though in real life, he died of peritonitis after an appendectomy).

The film looks great and, like most of Russell's biographical works, treats a real life as just a light framework for Russell's wild imaginings—this was taken to an extreme in LISZTOMANIA, a film I adored at 19 and am afraid to watch now. There is never a pause in the parade of grotesque incidents so we don't really get to know the characters, but as plastic exaggerations employed largely as living set decoration, they suffice. It takes a while to get used to Nureyev's stylized acting, but I think he does an admirable job creating a suitably exotic character. Phillips is dreadful, but looks every inch a silent movie diva, and that's what was important to Russell. Leslie Caron is OK as Nazimova, another diva Valentino fell in with, Carol Kane and Leland Palmer are fine as other passing fancies, but Kendal fares the best performance-wise. Seymour Cassell does a nice job as Valentino's manager who, like Kendal, actually does seem to care for the person behind the legend. There are several interesting setpieces, but the one that remained seared into my mind for years (and still holds up) involves cross-cutting between Nureyev and Phillips arguing and copulating on a dining room table while his fan club members are outside chanting desperately to their idol. Not a great film, but one worth seeing, and one that deserves a DVD release. [TCM]  

Friday, August 10, 2012


District attorney Foster says in passing that he would sell his soul to break the stranglehold that Hanson's protection racket has on the city. One night, he is told to go the China Coast Café for some information. Out of the fog comes the whistling figure of Nick Beal; he claims to have Hanson's accounting books which had supposedly been destroyed. Foster takes the books, even though he knows they must have been stolen, and Beal vanishes. After Hanson is sent to prison, Foster is talked into running for governor and Beal comes back into Foster's life, offering to smooth his way into office. Those around Foster, including his wife, aren't happy with Beal's influence (and it seems strange that Beal leaves the room when a minister starts quoting the Bible), but soon Beal is running the show and Foster's wife has become estranged. Sure enough, Beal is the Devil, and Foster wins the election, but when Foster shows signs of attempting to renounce his ill-gotten gains, can even the help of his minister save his eternal soul?

This fantasy melodrama is one-of-a-kind. For a while, we're not certain that Beal is a supernatural figure, but even when we know he is, the film mostly plays it straight, like a slightly off-kilter film noir. Foster (Thomas Mitchell) is a good man with good intentions, and at various times, he tries not to take Beal's help, but as long as he thinks he’s doing good for the people, he gives in. At one point, Beal (Ray Milland) sets up a prostitute (noir gal Audrey Totter) to entrap Foster, and she does indeed get wrapped up in Foster's life and campaign, but she can't bring herself to enlist fully in the Devil's work. The ending, which involves the traditional signed pact for Foster’s soul, is a bit of a fizzle, but it doesn't hurt the film, which is a marvel of noir shadows and nighttime scenes. Milland at first struck me as a bit one-note, but it's an effective note; he's always both calm but intense, even when things don’t seem to be going his way. Mitchell and Totter are both fine; the cast includes George Macready playing a bit against type as the minister, Fred Clark as a gangster, and Daryl Hickman as a wayward youth saved by the minister. Never released officially on home video, I saw this on YouTube in a good print, and I hope someday Universal will be moved to put it out on DVD.  [YouTube]

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


In 1518 Spain, aristocrat Tyrone Power aids an Aztec slave (Jay Silverheels) on the run from his cruel master (John Sutton) who also happens to be an Inquisitor. Out of spite, Sutton imprisons Power's family on trumped-up charges of heresy, and Power's young sister dies while being tortured. Vowing revenge, Power stabs Sutton, apparently killing him, and he and his family escape with some help from a sympathetic barmaid (Jean Peters), her jailer brother, and Lee J. Cobb, an alcoholic adventurer who planned on taking his mother with him to the New World but found that she, too, had been killed by the Inquisition. Power, Peters and Cobb join Cesar Romero (as Hernando Cortez) to head off to Cuba and then Mexico (for conquering and plundering, but since these are the good guys here, that's downplayed). When an arrest warrant for Power is presented by the Inquisition, a good padre (Thomas Gomez) finds out what happened and tears it up. But lo and behold, who shows up in Mexico but Sutton, still alive, and Silverheels, still hiding from his former master. Did I mention that Peters is pregnant by Powers? How will all the tensions resolve themselves?

This swashbuckler was made (in beautiful Technicolor) at the end of the traditional studio system era, and though it's gorgeous to look at, it doesn’t quite all come together. That may be because the film is based on a huge historical fiction bestseller that would have taken a film of Gone with the Wind's length to sort out. The first half is more successful as it focuses more narrowly on Power and his family and friends. Power, Cobb and Sutton are all good at bringing their characters to life. Romero is blustery and fun, and George Zucco has a small role as a friend of Power's family who refuses to help them against Sutton. Peters (pictured above with Power) is duskily attractive but doesn't have much to do. Though the Power vs. Sutton storyline is wrapped up, the end of the film is an ambiguous scene of Gomez praying that Romeo will drive greed out of his heart as he is about to go a-conquering. [TCM] 

Monday, August 06, 2012


King Bradley runs a number of businesses in New York City, including a hockey team, a nightclub, and some boxers. When he dies, his daughter (Virginia Bruce) comes to the Big Apple from Iowa to take control, much to the consternation of some of his associates who want bigger pieces of the pie themselves. Robert Taylor, the owner of her Casa Nova nightclub, plays along with the bad guys for a while, helping to set up incidents designed to scare her back to the cornfields, but she is made of tougher stuff. The two, along with hayseed Oklahoma singer Pinky Tomlin, plot to sell the businesses off to legitimate owners. Of course there is potentially dangerous blowback from the cabal, including Taylor's ex-gal (Helen Twelevetrees), but with some help from tough guy Nat Pendleton, who leaves the baddies and joins up with the good guys, there's a happy ending for Taylor and Bruce. This pleasant but undistinguished film was Taylor's first leading role and he's fine; he's handsome and slick, and he has good chemistry with Bruce (the two were apparently dating at the time). Tomlin is essentially playing himself, a sort of Kay Kyser personality whose song, "The Object of My Affection," which he sings here, was a big hit. Bruce is one of those starlets who never broke out big but who usually makes a movie worth seeing, and that's true here. [TCM]

Friday, August 03, 2012


John Jasper is a middle-aged choirmaster who has a passion for the young and lovely Eva Bud, who lives at Miss Twinkleton's School for Girls, but she has already been promised to Jasper's handsome nephew Edwin Drood. Meanwhile, Neville Landless and his sister Helena arrive, and Neville, who has a bit of a temper, falls for Eva. She, not really being in love with Edwin, falls for him. Neville and Edwin argue, with Neville pulling a knife—and the story of the fight gets exaggerated by the village gossips—but eventually Eva and Edwin realize they're not really in love and he frees her from her arranged obligation. On a wild and stormy Christmas Eve, Jasper has Neville and Edwin over for a reconciliation dinner, but the next morning, Edwin is missing and Neville falls under suspicion. But what’s with Jasper’s drug paraphernalia? Neville, who insists that he and Edwin were no longer enemies, vanishes and returns in disguise as an old man, discovering Jasper is a secret opium addict. Could Jasper be a killer as well as a dope fiend? This melodrama is based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, and the mystery is given a satisfying if unsurprising ending; the movie as a whole, however, fails to thrill in the way that it promises to. The Gothic atmosphere is first-rate, and the film plays out more like a horror movie than a traditional Dickens adaptation, but the screenplay and acting are only adequate. Claude Rains, usually a reliably excellent actor, seems stymied by the merely serviceable script and weak direction. Douglass Montgomery is fine as Neville. David Manners (above, standing over Rains) and Heather Angel are lackluster as Edwin and Rosa, though there is some fun to be had with some of the supporting actors (Francis L. Sullivan as the Rev. Crisparkle, Zeffie Tilbury as the "Opium Woman," and Ethel Griffes as Miss Twinkleton). Maybe I felt let down by this one because the atmosphere builds it up to be something it isn't (creepy Gothic horror), but there just isn't much energy on display. [TCM]

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Heiress Joan Bennett is protected from the wiles of fortune hunting men by her older brother (Paul Cavanagh); after he dies, the family lawyer proposes to her—he’s a nice guy and has his own money but he's rather bland. Before she makes a decision, she goes on a vacation to Mexico where she meets dashing architect Michael Redgrave who seems to have plenty of money (he owns a modern architecture magazine); he calls her a 20th century Sleeping Beauty who needs someone to wake her up, and of course, she thinks he's that someone. They get married and after an inauspicious honeymoon during which Redgrave goes rushing mysteriously back to New York, she joins him at his mansion, which has an entire floor devoted to reproductions of "felicitous rooms," which all turn out to be murder scenes. There's one room that's locked; wonder what's in there? Meanwhile, the other inhabitants of the house take some getting used to:  Redgrave's unmarried sister (Anne Revere—think a somewhat more pleasant Mrs. Danvers from REBECCA), his secretary who was disfigured years ago in a fire (Barbara O'Neil—think Bertha from JANE EYRE), and his oddly mannered teenage son (Mark Dennis—think gayish). Yes, it appears that Redgrave has secrets, some financial (his magazine is hemorrhaging money), some psychological (both his mother and previous wife died in mysterious circumstances). Redgrave blames a life dominated by women for his problems; will Bennett be able to help him, or will she be his next victim?

Fritz Lang directed this psychological gothic melodrama with fine attention to visual detail—nice use of shadows, reflections, and odd camera angles—and indeed it gets by for about 20 minutes on its stylistic flair, but once you've figured out that it's Lang trying to outdo Hitchcock (the plot is REBECCA by way of SUSPICION with a big dose of SPELLBOUND), it gets very predictable. If Redgrave is supposed to be like Olivier in REBECCA, he's not; Olivier was intense, dashing and neurotic, but Redgrave is mostly just distractedly neurotic. Bennett is good, but is let down by Redgrave in their scenes together (both pictured above). Among the supporting players, Revere has the most potential, but her character winds up a bit of a red herring, and O'Neil doesn't get enough screen time or character development to be very interesting. Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell on Gilligan's Island) has a few good scenes as a comic relief gal pal. There's a bit of a cheat near the climax when one character's interior monologue leads us to believe that a murder has occurred that actually hasn't.  [TCM]