Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Perennial collegiate golden-boy Robert Wagner is dating co-ed and socialite Joanne Woodward, hoping to marry into her family. When she finds out she's pregnant, she wants to keep the baby and get married, but if they did in that situation, her judgmental father would disown her—and confound Wagner's plans for a future on Easy Street. He has his own family problem in the form of an overbearing mother who nags at him for his failure to make something of himself at the age of 25. Feeling trapped, Wagner decides to poison Woodward to get untangled from his mess, and when that doesn't work, they go downtown (supposedly to get a marriage license) and he takes her to the top of an office building (pictured) where he pushes her to her death. The police assume suicide and the father goes along, not wanting more publicity from further investigation, but the verdict does not sit well with Woodward's sister (Virginia Leith) who, a few months later, is dating Wagner, not realizing that he previously dated Woodward. However, it doesn't take too long for Leith to start putting two and two together—most importantly, noticing that Woodward had been wearing something old, new, borrowed and blue on the day of her death—and with some help from handsome young professor Jeffrey Hunter, she begins to investigate. At first, she suspects Robert Quarry, an ex-boyfriend, but he is found dead (again, apparently a suicide but actually murdered by Wagner). Leith agrees to marry Wagner, but what will happen when the light of suspicion  gets closer and closer to him? At times, Hitchcockian moments spring up that put me in mind of PSYCHO and VERTIGO (both of which came after this film), but there's something missing here. The film starts off well, but after Woodward's murder, the pace slackens a bit. Wagner and Woodward are the best actors; Leith and Hunter are blander (and possibly miscast), so the acting also feels a bit unbalanced. The bright skies of Tucson and the widescreen compositions work against a noir atmosphere, but the look of the movie is generally a plus. Also with Mary Astor as Wagner’s mother and George MacReady as Woodworth’s father. Interesting but mostly feels like a missed opportunity by director Gerd Oswald who eventually moved to television. Based on a novel by Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby). [TCM]

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