Tuesday, August 01, 2017


Heiress Kimberly Prescott (Anne Baxter) has just returned to her family's Spanish villa after the death of her brother Ward in a car accident and the subsequent suicide of her father, owner of a South African diamond company. She gets a sympathetic visit from her uncle Chandler (Alexander Knox), but after he leaves that night, a man shows up claiming to be Ward (Richard Todd). Kim insists she's never seen him before, but he insists equally strongly that he survived the accident and had amnesia for a time. Kim calls the local police inspector Vargas (Herbert Lom) and when she goes to find pictures of the real Ward, all she can find are pictures of the man who claims to be him. The next morning, Kim finds that her loyal maid Maria is gone—supposedly visiting family—and has been temporarily replaced by the mysterious Mrs. Whitman. Kim is further puzzled when Uncle Chandler arrives and appears to recognize Ward. We soon discover that her father had sold the company before he died, but millions of dollars worth of diamonds are missing from a company vault, and it seems like Ward would like to get his hands on them, and perhaps thinks that Kim knows where they've gone. Is Ward an imposter trying to terrorize Kim? Or did Ward really survive the crash and Kim has gone nuts?

And that's about all I can spill of the plot of this nifty, twisty thriller. Just when you think you know what’s going on, another twist crops up, and then another. It's tricky but leads to a satisfying ending. The Spanish coast makes for a lovely backdrop and the noir-like night scenes are nicely inky black. The entire cast is good, especially Baxter and Todd (pictured) in their cat-and-mouse scenes with each other. The director is Michael Anderson who I know for LOGAN'S RUN and the TV mini-series of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. The producer is Douglas Fairbanks Jr. who appears at the very end to ask the audience not to spoil the ending for other viewers. I wouldn’t dream of offending that fine swashbuckling actor, so I won't. [TCM]

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