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speedracer5

I Just Watched...

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still no cable after the storm, so i've been raiding my collection of classic horror DVDs (which I usually do this time of year anyhow.)

over the past several days I've checked out:

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)- When I had to evacuate to Raleigh, I found THE WOLF MAN LEGACY COLLECTION on DVD at a used bookstore which includes this as well as the UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935). This is a fun movie, and kind of a prescient one in that it is the first case I can think of where we see the very modern (and extremely played out) concept of THE FRANCHISE FILM. I still think the real star of this one is the incredible set design- from the graveyard at the beginning to the half-destroyed castle- Universal's set design team gives the guys at Columbia and MGM a real run for the money.

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)- I made the very wise choice to skip over the pointless DRACULA B-Story and focus on the next 2/3 of the film, and if you do that- it's not bad, and is actually quite moving for its highly tragic love triangle between the gypsy girl (who was very well-played), J CARROL NAISH's Hunchback and Chaney's Wolf Man. one of the more moving and shocking endings of the Universal Horror films.

DOCTOR X (1932)- i WAS surprised by how much I liked this one, I even rewatched it. i love the sickly two-strip technicolor process and am sorry it was only used for one other horror movie (MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM) before it was discontinued- it is the PERFECT medium for a horror film. Curtiz's direction is ace, and the "SYNTHETIC FLESH!" scene is one of my favorites in all horror- just some well-done visual trickery.

MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935)- Because i always expect it to be a little better every time I see it

RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1944?)- Because I adore it, I think it is the only truly satisfying vampire movie made in the golden age of HOLLYWOOD- just wonderful production values (COLUMBIA doesn't often get credit for their superb set design) and some good direction from LEW LANDERS. I also love FRIEDA INESCORT in this, as well as the occasional comedy and clever insertion of WWII and the German Air Raids as a plot device.

MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932) love this one, especially the scene at the end where "America's Dad" LEWIS STONE and JEAN HERSHOLT (of the "Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award" roast a room full of defenseless men with a death ray. They don't make 'em like this anymore.

SPANISH DRACULA (1931)- THE SUPERIOR in many ways Spanish-language version of 1931's DRACULA, I really wish that instead of that styupid PHILLIP GLASS SCORE, Universal had spent the time to add the numerous second-unit and establishing shots that were kept in this, but were apparently edited out of, to the American version. it would be something to see.

MAD LOVE (1935)- such fun.

THE INVISIBLE RAY/ THE RAVEN/ THE BLACK CAT/ MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE- ALL as part of THE BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION DVD. I had forgotten that Universal, for all their later cheapness and recycling, did some really well-done films in the thirties with some great sets, special effects and even original scores (INVISIBLE RAY may be the best in technical terms of the lot.)

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"The Day They Robbed The Bank Of England" - John Guillermin - 1960 -

It's an interesting, but plodding "heist film" about an unsuccessful attempt, which was initiated by Irish patriots, to rob the bank of England -

the plan involved a lot of ingenuity and manual labor -

it was hinged on digging a tunnel under the actual bank vault and then working one's way up -

although the film might've used a lot more style -

it is saved by a noteworthy cast that includes Aldo Ray, Peter O'Toole (as a brunette), Elizabeth Sellars, Kieron Moore, Albert Sharpe, Miles Malleson, etc. -

the downbeat ending is, of course, a given -

since the Irish patriots were about to be given what they wanted by the British government -

and an attempt was made by the patriots to stop the heist -

the-day-they-robbed.jpg

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I MAY catch a well-deserved Hell for this, but...

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES used to show on HBO all the time when I was growing up and I liked it, so i read the "book" years later and was underwhelmed to say the least. It's a 60 page story outline bloated into 120 by being double spaced in size 14 font and every new chapter (of which there are several)  begins on a page with two lines of type- a profound waste of paper.

I have not read THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, so I might ought to keep my yap shut til' then, but between SOMETHING WICKED, FAHRENHEIT 451 (which really did not impress me) and some of his radio scripts, I am of the very strong opinion that BRADBURY was an idea man who was able to come up with some intriguing story outlines, but when it comes to the actual execution of said ideas: YAWNSVILLE.

I've never read much of Bradbury, and not The Martian Chronicles but the TV miniseries captured my imagination well for what budget they had to work with.

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

THE INVISIBLE RAY/ THE RAVEN/ THE BLACK CAT/ MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE- ALL as part of THE BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION DVD. I had forgotten that Universal, for all their later cheapness and recycling, did some really well-done films in the thirties with some great sets, special effects and even original scores (INVISIBLE RAY may be the best in technical terms of the lot.)

I love Laemmle era Universal, which most of this collection is. The cheapness and recycling came after the Laemmles lost their studio to money men, who did not know how to make films. It took a few years for the quality to come back up. I expect TopBilled to come by here any minute and chide me for saying something bad about post 1936 Universal!

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24 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

I love Laemmle era Universal, which most of this collection is. The cheapness and recycling came after the Laemmles lost their studio to money men, who did not know how to make films. It took a few years for the quality to come back up.

case in point- BLACK FRIDAY, which was the last big-time teaming of LUGOSI AND KARLOFF ca. 1940.

I can't make it though that one for the life of me.

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2 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

case in point- BLACK FRIDAY, which was the last big-time teaming of LUGOSI AND KARLOFF ca. 1940.

I can't make it though that one for the life of me.

For me it is 1941's "The Black Cat" that really bugs me. Post code Universal cannot just remake the original 1934 classic, but they have a pretty good plot and some atmosphere going and then interject two bumbling characters for some so-called "comedy" and it just does not work. It grates on my nerves all the way through the film. Why did Abbott and Costello, or at least their comedy style, have to invade so many Universal horrors of the 40s???

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

case in point- BLACK FRIDAY, which was the last big-time teaming of LUGOSI AND KARLOFF ca. 1940.

I can't make it though that one for the life of me.

Well, to each his own. I've always liked the film, mainly for Stanley Ridges' performance. Karloff is his usual self;  Lugosi is out of place as a gangster. They didn't bring much of anything to the film.

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29 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

Well, to each his own. I've always liked the [BLACK FRIDAY], mainly for Stanley Ridges' performance. Karloff is his usual self;  Lugosi is out of place as a gangster. They didn't bring much of anything to the film.

Maybe I'll try to check it out once more, The Good Lord Knows I'm not getting cable back any time soon.

PS- OH YEAH, Lugosi fits the role like a football bat.

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U50P5029T2D355589F24DT20110112142850.jpg

Scenes of City Life - Early Chinese musical comedy from 1935. This movie gives a good idea about common life in that time period. Jiang Qing stars as a spoiled woman who uses a penniless novelist for everything he has so she can buy expensive things. She also romances with a rich businessman on the side all while her family starve too. This movie emphasizes the dangers of consumerism. This one has some funny gags and the soundtrack was very nice and jazzy. It's an okay film and is up on YouTube with English subtitles in 10 parts. 

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Dishonored (1931) - Visually striking spy drama from Paramount Pictures and director Josef von Sternberg. Marlene Dietrich stars as "X27", a streetwalker that gets recruited as a secret agent in the Austrian Secret Service during WW1. She uses her seductive wiles to get sensitive information from various Russian military officers, but her luck may soon run out. Also featuring Victor McLaglen, Warner Oland, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Lew Cody, Barry Norton, and Wilfred Lucas.

Dietrich and von Sternberg's third teaming proves to be an uneven but fascinating curio. Visually it's von Sternberg's best up to this point (although he'd get better), with lots of interesting shadowplay and shot compositions. Dietrich seems effortless in her portrayal of the wily, jaded X27. She still hadn't slimmed down to her more-famous gaunt look, and the few extra pounds look good on her. This film is also more sexually frank in that Pre-Code manner. The plot line is lazy and not a lot happens in that regard, but the visuals and the performances make this worth seeing.    (7/10)

220px-DishonoredPoster.jpg

 

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For some reason Dishonored is rarely shown on TCM when TCM salutes her. Havent seen the film in many years....

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21 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The slightly removed nature of early sound filmmaking adds to the otherworldly ambiance.

I liked how they attempted to use sound effects as a plot point.

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50 Million Frenchmen (1931) - Comedy from Warner Brothers and director Lloyd Bacon. Two rich guys, Jack (William Gaxton) and Michael (John Halliday), make a bet to wed Lu Lu (Claudia Dell). To help ensure that he wins, Michael hires two goofy detectives (Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson) to trail Jack and try to thwart his success. Also featuring Helen Broderick, Lester Crawford, Evelyn Knapp, Charles Judels, Carmelita Geraghty, and Bela Lugosi.

This was filmed in 2-strip Technicolor and as a full-fledged musical, but when the genre fell into commercial decline, Warners held back the release of the movie for a year and excised almost all of the music. The only surviving prints are in B&W, as well. The result is an intermittently funny comedy that quickly fades from the memory. Lugosi has a brief uncredited cameo as a bearded magician.   (6/10)

50MillionFrenchmen12.png 

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8 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I MAY catch a well-deserved Hell for this, but...

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES used to show on HBO all the time when I was growing up and I liked it, so i read the "book" years later and was underwhelmed to say the least. It's a 60 page story outline bloated into 120 by being double spaced in size 14 font and every new chapter (of which there are several)  begins on a page with two lines of type- a profound waste of paper.

I have not read THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, so I might ought to keep my yap shut til' then, but between SOMETHING WICKED, FAHRENHEIT 451 (which really did not impress me) and some of his radio scripts, I am of the very strong opinion that BRADBURY was an idea man who was able to come up with some intriguing story outlines, but when it comes to the actual execution of said ideas: YAWNSVILLE.

He was poetic, which works well in print, but comes off ridiculously implausible if you try to film it as straight adaptation.  Up to that point, the only successful Bradbury on film was the Twilight Zone episode of "I Sing the Body Electric", which even then was not exactly on the same level as Rod Serling...And as for what happened to "A Sound of Thunder" without him, let's not even get into that.  ?

"The Martian Chronicles" was a...good-not-great 70's-TV miniseries of seven of the individual stories, but tried to "fit" the disconnected anthology stories together with a central narrative plot that would justify "The Million-Year Picnic" at the end.

But yes, Bradbury's SWTWC script was a much tighter second-draft than the book, made Jason Robards' character more believable, and even came up with a better, more appropriate fate for "ol' Tom Fury".  (Royal Dano walking away with spooky Ray Bradbury dialogue again, just as he had in his two minutes in "Moby Dick".)

16 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I've seen the preview for this movie a couple times now.  I didn't really have high hopes for it.  I think what turned me off the most about it is the title.  Granted, I see that the movie is based on a book, so the title probably comes from that; but it's so lame.  The House with a Clock in its Walls sounds like a working title that you'd use until you thought of something better.

Hollywood Hates Books, and if you see a "Classic children's adaptation", you know it's going to be mangled past its marketable title into Whatever the Studio Wants It To Be.  (Ahem, "Peter Rabbit", 'nuff said...Or do we need to go into Jim Carrey taking "Mr. Popper's Penguins" naively hoping it would be a faithful adaptation?)

John Bellairs has a nice spooky pre-Harry Potter attempt at whimsical gothic kids' fantasies, director Eli Roth wanted to do the pet project, and Amblin' productions wanted to pay for it because Spielberg thought he'd have more childhood nostalgia.  But I looked at the trailer, saw Jack Black and Cate Blanchett trying to guard some ancient relic and running from hordes of funny/spooky CGI creatures, and immediately pictured another studio trying to make their own marketable Halloween-kid-lit "Goosebumps" on demand.  Which, considering we get an actual Sony franchise-hungry "Goosebumps 2" next October without Black, makes it that much more deliberately confusing.

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"Raintree County" - Edward Dmytryk - 1957 -

This one is an impossibly lavish and mostly overlong attempt from MGM at a Civil War "romantic melodrama" -

it has an extremely tortured soul -

a young Northerner (Montgomery Clift) falls in love with a Southern belle (Elizabeth Taylor) -

she tricks him into marriage by claiming that she is pregnant -

their union is a difficult one due to "political views"-

e.g., Clift demands that Taylor get rid of her slaves -

she does, but with a sort of demented gaiety -

on the sidelines, another young woman (Eva Marie Saint) pines away for Clift -

in a "I won't let go" sort of fashion -   

gradually, it is revealed that Taylor has a debilitating "secret" -

she believes that she is the child of her father and his black mistress -

but she can't get to the truth of the matter, because her mother, father and mistress were killed in a mysterious fire -

what is the secret of the fire? -

your guess, moviegoer -

did Taylor, as a child, do it? -

eventually, the thought that she might have black blood drives Taylor around the bend -

and she disappears with her child (yes, Clift finally got his wife pregnant) -

although, to be honest, you can't believe that this man could get a woman pregnant -

in the end, do you want to know? -

"spoiler alert" -

Taylor goes mad with the thought of all that black blood-

Clift finds the son at the scene of the fire - a ruined Southern mansion -

and then he finds Taylor in an insane asylum -

he takes her back home -

is it finally a happy home? -

no, Taylor is too far gone - and Eva Marie Saint is always there on the sidelines -

she runs off and drowns herself -

and Clift, his son and Eva Marie Saint seem destined for a new life -

the film seems to have cost a fortune -

and it is persuasively directed -

Taylor dominates the film quite well in an impossible role - black blood, black blood, black blood!!! -

but Clift who filmed most of his scenes after his disfiguring accident, is awfully difficult to look at and listen to -

that he is a real person in distress is more than obvious -

the film was a hit at the box office, but it cost so much to make, that it lost money -

Poster%20-%20Raintree%20County_02.jpg

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Illicit (1931) - Pre-Code melodrama from Warner Brothers and director Archie Mayo. Rich guy Dick (James Rennie) wants to marry his girlfriend Anne (Barbara Stanwyck), as the two have been living together out of wedlock and the scandal of such accommodations is brewing. Anne is reluctant, as she has bad memories of her parents' failed marraige, but she relents. However, after the nuptials, things aren't as smooth and easy as either expected. Also featuring Ricardo Cortez, Joan Blondell, Charles Butterworth, Natalie Moorhead, and Claude Gillingwater.

This is another "rich folks try to bypass the old morality and learn why that's a bad idea" type of story so often favored in the Pre-Code era. No one seems to work or do much of anything but attend cocktail parties and fret over their love lives in the comfort of a swanky Art Deco apartment. In other words, pure escapism to the vast majority of those viewing, and about as grounded in reality as the average superhero movie is today. Stanwyck is good, giving a natural and winsome performance. Joan Blondell naturally steals every scene she's in, which is too few. The movie's biggest weakness, other than a lukewarm script, is leading man Rennie, who's about as bland as they come.   (6/10)

Source: TCM

illicit1931_120520120203.jpg

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56 minutes ago, rayban said:

"Raintree County" - Edward Dmytryk - 1957 -

Raintree1.jpg

Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a Civil War re-enactor!

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Illicit (1931) - Pre-Code melodrama from Warner Brothers and director Archie Mayo. Rich guy Dick (James Rennie) wants to marry his girlfriend Anne (Barbara Stanwyck), as the two have been living together out of wedlock and the scandal of such accommodations is brewing. Anne is reluctant, as she has bad memories of her parents' failed marraige, but she relents. However, after the nuptials, things aren't as smooth and easy as either expected. Also featuring Ricardo Cortez, Joan Blondell, Charles Butterworth, Natalie Moorhead, and Claude Gillingwater.

This is another "rich folks try to bypass the old morality and learn why that's a bad idea" type of story so often favored in the Pre-Code era. No one seems to work or do much of anything but attend cocktail parties and fret over their love lives in the comfort of a swanky Art Deco apartment. In other words, pure escapism to the vast majority of those viewing, and about as grounded in reality as the average superhero movie is today. Stanwyck is good, giving a natural and winsome performance. Joan Blondell naturally steals every scene she's in, which is too few. The movie's biggest weakness, other than a lukewarm script, is leading man Rennie, who's about as bland as they come.   (6/10)

Source: TCM

illicit1931_120520120203.jpg

ILLICIT ran on TCM not too long ago (during SUTS?) and I couldn’t make it through. Very tinny sound, bad print, And some very static stagey and bad direction. The camera barely moves throughout the whole thing and the actors hang out directly underneath the boom mic for most of it.

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9 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

ILLICIT ran on TCM not too long ago (during SUTS?) and I couldn’t make it through. Very tinny sound, bad print, And some very static stagey and bad direction. The camera barely moves throughout the whole thing and the actors hang out directly underneath the boom mic for most of it.

That's one thing about watching several movies in a row from the same era: those kind of issues become less noticeable. After 5 or 6 films in a row from 1929, 1930, and 1931, the production values become expected and accepted, to a certain extent.

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I’ve brought this up before, but I sort of wish TCM would run a spotlight on very early sound films, like highlight the year 1929 in particular. Some of them are flawed, but fascinating attempts. And it’s really amazing at how fast they were able to step it up by the mid thirties To where actors could actually walk around (!) when reciting dialogue, conversations could overlap, and even musical scores were introduced

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There are moments in some early sound films that kind of remind me of the scene in “take the money and run” where the escaped convicts are all chained together at the ankles and the group has to shuffle together en masse because nobody could wander too far away from the boom mic

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The Naughty Flirt (1931) - Minor yet amusing comedy from First National and director Edward Cline. Flighty, fun-loving rich girl Kay (Alice White) hopes to marry the more sensible Alan (Paul Page), who works for her father. However, scheming gold-digging siblings Jack (Douglas Gilmore) and Linda (Myrna Loy) plan on getting at Kay's fortune via Jack marrying her instead. Also featuring Robert Agnew, George Irving, Marian Marsh, and Lloyd Ingraham.

This short (56 minute) bit of fluff is made mildly appealing thanks to a winning performance from White and the always welcome presence of Loy. The men in the picture are much less memorable, and seem out of their league.   (6/10)

Source: TCM

3b931a5e8089eb5153243edbe9a54b61.jpg

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Rebound (1931) - Romantic drama from RKO-Pathe and director Edward H. Griffith. Rich girl Sara (Ina Claire) loves rich guy Bill (Robert Ames), but he loves Evie (Myrna Loy), who loves other rich guy Lyman (Hale Hamilton). Meanwhile, third rich guy Johnnie (Robert Williams) loves Sara, but she just wants to be friends. When Sara marries Bill after Evie rejects him, things turn out poorly. Also featuring Hedda Hopper, Walter Walker, and Louise Closser Hale.

More posh moneyed people pining after each other while looking good in formal wear. The material's theatrical origins are readily apparent in the staginess of the production. Loy gets to be a vamp again, but the star is clearly Claire, who does her best with the mediocre material.   (6/10)

Source: Rarefilmm.com. The uploaded video was taken from an old VHS copy made from a TCM showing, and it's in poor condition.

281213-rebound-0-230-0-345-crop.jpg?k=bf

9a919f0108dcf309fb420cfb15ac284e--myrna-

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On 9/24/2018 at 11:19 PM, LawrenceA said:

Broadminded (1931) When people decry the infantile humor of today, longing for the "great wit" of yesteryear's comedies, I think of garbage like this as a rebuttal. It's every bit as stupid and moronic as a typical Adam Sandler flick. Brown is irritating, a squealing idiot man-child and non-stop doofus in search of a laugh who most times comes up empty. Bela Lugosi plays an angry South American named "Pancho Arango", because when you think South American, you naturally think Lugosi. At least the ladies look pleasant. Check out the film's opening sequence, a lavish "Baby Party" where all the adults are required to dress as "no older than 6 years of age", and Brown shows up as a baby in a big stroller. :(  

 

Thank you for that succinct diatribe. I couldn't agree more (but am far less eloquent)

I find many "classic" idiotic childish comedians just tiring like Laurel & Hardy and Danny Kaye. But none irritate me like Joe E Brown. I can't watch him.

It's a very different story when the comedian's schtick IS playing a baby, like Baby Snooks. 

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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956).  My DVR is 77% full with 430-ish films.  I am trying to free up space, but for every one film I delete, I record three in its place.  Lol.  Anyway, last night I watched Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, a 1956 Fritz Lang noir starring Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine.  While I don't think this was one of Lang's best (or Andrews' or Fontaine's for that matter), it was interesting and had a great twist ending, that I wasn't expecting. 

This film features Andrews as Tom Garrett, a novelist who is facing a deadline by his publisher to complete his next book.  His future father-in-law, Austin Spencer, works has an editor (or maybe a reporter) for the big newspaper in town.  Spencer has enough clout as an editor (journalist?) that he's regularly in touch with the District Attorney and local law enforcement.  Spencer is also anti-capital punishment and is often at odds with the DA, who is very much pro-capital punishment.  Spencer feels that the DA feels no qualms about sentencing people to death, because he wants to be seen as the man who makes someone pay for whatever crime he's prosecuting--regardless of whether he presents hard evidence or circumstantial. 

An execution is presented at the beginning of the film.  Through conversations between Garrett and Spencer and later, Garrett, Spencer and the DA, we learn that the DA has been thought of as taking the most inconsequential circumstantial evidence and manipulating it in court to make it seem like hard fact.  Spencer feels like the DA often is grasping at straws, but because he wants to be seen as bringing justice to crimes, he is willing to manipulate any jury into a conviction.  Spencer questions the DA about letting a potentially innocent man take the fall based on circumstantial evidence and not actual fact.  The DA seems nonchalant about the whole thing.

For his book, Spencer suggests to Garrett that he write a book about someone who is convicted of a crime based on circumstantial evidence.  1) It will give Garrett something to write about, and 2) Spencer will hopefully be able to prove his point to the DA that innocent men could be convicted and executed based on circumstantial evidence.  The plan is that Garrett and Spencer will find a crime where the police have no leads.  They will then plant evidence in order to focus the police attention on Garrett as the possible perpetrator and implicate him in a crime.  They're hoping that Garrett will be arrested and brought to trial. Along the way, Spencer and Garrett plan on taking photos of Garrett planting the evidence so that the photos can be presented to the court in the event that Garrett is convicted of the crime.

You just know from the get-go that something is going to go wrong.  Otherwise, where's the suspense? What I did not expect was the ending of the film.  What a great twist. 

Joan Fontaine is rather wasted in her thankless role as Susan Spencer, Andrews' fiancee and daughter of Austin Spencer.  Her finest moment in the film is towards the end, but even then, I think many other actresses could have handled the part--it wouldn't have required an Oscar winner.  I used to think of Fontaine as kind of wimpy and mousy, but she's kind of grown on me.  She excels in her "women in peril" roles that she seems to do a lot.

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