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Author Topic: They Won't Believe Me (1947)  (Read 1093 times)
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« on: April 01, 2012, 06:28:24 AM »

Director Irving Pichel, with Susan Hayward as Verna Carlson, Robert Young as Larry Balantine, Jane Greer as Janice Bell, Rita Johnson as Greta Balantine. Writers: Jonathan Latimer (screenplay), based on a Gordon McDonell story.



Its the type of a tale that you would expect James M. Cain to pen. Its about this philandering husband (Young) unhappily married to a possessive millionairess (Johnson) who gets involved with two other women Janice (Greer) and Verna (Hayward). Young has a job in a brokerage firm as a stockbroker because of his wife's position in life, he married for money and found out that its not all there is. He falls for Janice a fellow broker and carries on an affair with her, and when Janice is transferred to Montreal he decides to go with her, but he finds it hard to break away from his wife's money teat, his wife finds out his plans, she threatens to cut him off, and subsequently decides to sell the house and arrange to have his job transferred to Los Angeles. On the very day he is supposed to meet Janice at the station, Larry & Greta board a train to LA.

Larry with Janice and far right Greta



In LA, Larry tries to change his tune but he is smitten by the attention payed to him a very cute Verna (Hayward) who wraps him around her finger, they fall in love. Once again Greta finds out and once again sells the house and moves Larry away to a remote ranch up in the Sierras with no phone and the nearest town a good drive away. Before the move Verna gives Larry the ultimatum her or me, Larry again picks the money, and Verna storms off.

Larry meets Verna



Hayward eye candy



For awhile Larry and Greta seem to reconcile, they spend the days riding about the ranch and the evenings with each other, Greta decides to build a guesthouse and sends Larry to LA to meet with an architect. Before he goes he calls Verna from a general store and tells her to meet him at their old meeting place if she is still interested in him. She does and they rekindle their affair. Larry cooks up a scheme to swindle Greta out of $25,000 using Verna. Meanwhile Janice shows up now working at the LA branch of the brokerage firm.

Larry & Hayward in a cute two piece bathing suit on the way to the Reno divorce



As you'd expect everything goes to shit leading to tragedy (and a terrific twist ending). Young excels in his unsympathetic role as a cad,  Johnson does wonders with her scenes as his wife, and Hayward is exceptionally enticing in her very forward way of pursuing Larry.  This is more of a Film Gris than a Films de la nuit (Hard Core Noir) Still is a entertaining viewing 7/10 caught it on TCM, I've heard that some of it is cut and that there is a full version of this shown only at Noir City events. It seems to flow ok but it would be nice to see it complete worth trying to find.

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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2012, 04:28:46 AM »

From Back Alley Forums:

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Let's get the bad news out of the way first. TCM for all the good it does for classic films – airs a butchered version of the RKO noir They Won't Believe Me!


Instead of the 95 minutes watching a man behave badly we're stuck with a neutered lead not really doing anything all that wrong. The cut 80-minute one turns a top-shelf film noir into a watered-down flim flam. Cutting 15 minutes from a film can do that – especially if the cuts were designed to remove all the “immoral” decisions in it. Hell, the 80-minute cut should be shown before the full version to film students as a lesson on how a bad edit can ruin a film.


And I know this may annoy some – but the uncut version isn't easy to find and watch. Former home video releases of They Won't Believe Me! and even the fairly recent Italian DVD release of the noir are all 80 minutes (despite labels) – and they look like the same print TCM airs frequently. Even TCMs site lists the movie as running 95 minutes. Clock it when it airs tomorrow and you'll see what I mean. It ain't. Or better yet – don't watch it and wait for Noir City to roll into town and see it on the big screen in it's entirety. The uncut version is sometimes screened by Eddie Muller (at Noir City). Video pirates can find the full version on the “gray market” online.


There is some hope for the rest: Noir fans at the Back Alley mention that the WB Archive wants to release the full version on DVD but apparently they have some issues with the original print (as of right now). If they did release it it'd be one that would be snagged up by true film nuts. It's a film that would have fit perfectly on the (now apparently abandoned) WB Film Noir DVD box sets that they used to put out. It's a better movie than most of the ones they included on the last few sets.


The film


The plot is a variation of Double Indemnity. And I mean that as a complement. It fits nicely with A pictures like Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice but retains that RKO look and feel (slightly cheap and gritty with familiar actors peppering the edges). That would include Out of the Past released 1/2 a year after They Won't Believe Me!


Robert Young plays Larry Ballentine -- a young playboy who marries rich. He finds himself bored with is wife and begins an inappropriate relationship with one of his wife's friends (Jane Greer). When we first are introduced to Larry and Janice it's in a courtroom with Larry on trial for murder. It quickly moves to a flashback showing the two on a Saturday afternoon meetup at a New York City bar. They drink crazy frozen drinks that you'd never think about ordering when you're alone. They're flirty and touchy – as they discuss their plans to build a boat together. (The unedited cut shows that this relationship is clearly more than friendship, but the damned re-edit makes it look like Larry is kinda slow and is only interested in the toy boat not one of the “queens of film noir” batting her doe eyes next to him.)


Larry – after downing a few drinks – stumbles home to be confronted by his wife's aunt and friends who think he's a heal. His wife, for a change, is actually beautiful and very understanding. You'd expect the old battle axe like Edward G. Robinson's missis in Scarlet Street. She's actually quite a catch – refined and rich, yes. But understanding and tolerant of her untrustworthy husband. He doesn't see it that way.


Things happen and the next week he tells her he's leaving her for Janice. Greta (Rita Johnson) convinces him otherwise and Janice is out of the picture.


Larry continues to work for his wife's company. He's only there because his wife owns a sizable share of it. He is lazy --as expected --and not liked by his partner Trenton (familiar face Tom Powers.) Underling Verna Carlson catches Larry's eye one day. Before he can finish a voice over talking about how he's been “too close to the flame and is now power shy when it comes to beautiful women” he's asking her what kind of perfume she likes. Verna (Susan Hayward) is another unique twist on a film noir character. She's a gold digger for sure. But she admits it. And the second she doesn't get her way with Larry she starts something up with his pug face (and probably also married) partner Trenton. Ruthless but she never becomes the femme fatale you'd expect. In fact, there's no true murder in the movie (if you can believe the possibly unreliable witness telling the story). There's shattered lives and suicide thanks to Larry's selfish, heartless nature. But no real crime. I kept waiting for Verna to talk Larry into killing his wife. Instead, she turns out to be fairly decent – like the other two woman in the film. Only Larry is the letch.


There are some nice visual touches in the movie and the final scene at the farm house with the horse is a jolt. I would guess you could credit camera man Harry J. Wild for most of the film's look – he certainly shot his share of noir including Pitfall, Nocturne, Station West, The Threat, His Kind of Woman and many, many more. Director/actor Irving Pichel didn't do anything remarkable in the film-noir world outside of this one (which is great), but turned out the enjoyable Quicksand in 1950.


The cast of They Won't Believe Me! Is strong. Robert Young is remembered by men of a certain age as Marcus Welby, M.D. Here he's quite good as the playboy with a wandering eye. Jane Greer is only months away before Out of the Past is released. She's at the height of her beauty. Finally Susan Hayward is given some of the best lines. She's quite something when she's trying to reel in Larry by cutting down his rich wife and flashing a smile that is so suggestive it should be illegal – only Gilda's hair flip is more powerful. Hayward and Young's best bits are exorcised from the 80 minute cut including a kiss at the opera (with Larry's wife not too far away.)


Noir of the Week has been going for seven years now. There aren't many top shelf noirs we haven't talked about yet. This is one. They Won't Believe Me! Is a good stiff drink if you can find a bar that serves it straight up.

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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2012, 02:23:03 AM »

Just saw this movie. Enjoyed it very much, though I am unsure of how I feel about the ending. Robert Young is very good in the lead. I've always loved Jane Greer. I didn't like the Hayward character because she is so open about her intentions, it doesn't make sense that Young would walk into it: This is not a "trap." There is no deception. She says straight up that she wants his money and that's all she's been after. Yeah, many a man has been tricked by a femme fatale, but there are no tricks here. And I find it ridiculous that he would walk into it like that. And I don't think I found it all that believable that he walked out on Greer in the beginning. Maybe that's just cuz I am smitten by Greer.

I saw the movie on TCM. Thanks to cj's previous posts, I am definitely interested in seeing the 95-minute version. I hope it is released someday. TCM is usually so great, it doesn't make sense why they would continue to show the 80-minute version. (Maybe some legal issue?) If I ever get the opportunity to see the 95-minute version, I will definitely do so.



SPOILER ALERT

As for the ending, I think it would have been better if, once he was shot, the case would have been over. When the judge insists that they read the verdict, there is zero doubt that it'll be "not guilty," so it loses the effect. If it had just ended with him being shot, and the judge declaring the case over due to death of the defendant, and perhaps have the film fade out with a shot of the folded paper in the hands of the clerk, IMO that would have been a better ending.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 01:47:10 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 11:24:26 PM »

Eddie Muller's intro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZddeyB1J5k&feature=youtu.be

Eddie Muller's afterword https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXPifaq9zlw&feature=youtu.be

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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2017, 09:39:38 AM »

Thanks again, D & D for uploading.

I've been trying to track this movie down for a while. I didn't know about the two different versions. It doesn't look as if they're out on DVD. Does anyone know if there is a restored version around?

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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2017, 11:21:11 AM »

Thanks again, D & D for uploading.

I've been trying to track this movie down for a while. I didn't know about the two different versions. It doesn't look as if they're out on DVD. Does anyone know if there is a restored version around?

I looked but never found one.

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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2017, 12:30:40 PM »

Good pub for this one, nice to see. Moi >

Touched by the hand of God/Satan.

They Won't Believe Me is directed by Irving Pichel and adapted to screenplay by Jonathan Latimer from a story by Gordon McDonell. It stars Robert Young, Susan Hayward, Jane Greer and Rita Johnson. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Harry J. Wild.

Larry Ballentine (Young) is on trial for murder and he tells his story in flashback. Three dames and fate does not a good mix make.

"She looked like a very special kind of dynamite, neatly wrapped in nylon and silk. Only I wasn't having any. I'd been too close to one explosion already. I was powder shy".

A splendid slice of noir drama is put together by a group of film makers who knew how to make the noir style of film making work. The story has all the requisite ingredients to lure the interested viewers in, twists and turns, vipers and snipers, dialogue so sharp you could cut a steak with it, and a love rat protagonist (Young splendid in a break from his normal roles) being toyed with by Old Noir Nick and his friend The Fate.

In true noir tradition the plot is a little "out there", the middle section drags at times, while Harry Wild's cinematography doesn't kick in till a good hour into the play (worth the wait though!). But this is a little noir treasure waiting to be seen by more people. It's not unknown, the cast list ensures that is not the case, but in film noir circles it doesn't often crop up for discussion. It should, for it's tricky and devilish and pays off with a finale straight out of noirville. 8/10

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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2017, 07:45:38 PM »

I added Eddie's Afterword to my previous post

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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2017, 07:54:31 PM »

Thanks again, D & D for uploading.

I've been trying to track this movie down for a while. I didn't know about the two different versions. It doesn't look as if they're out on DVD. Does anyone know if there is a restored version around?

My pleasure.

who said anything about two different versions?

There's a Region 2 DVD available from Spain for less than 10 British pounds https://www.amazon.co.uk/They-Wont-Believe-Me-Region/dp/B00WR0GDOI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507600430&sr=8-1&keywords=they+won%27t+believe+me

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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2017, 09:30:59 PM »

Quote
who said anything about two different versions?
Steve-O, the guy quoted by CJ. It all gets very confusing.

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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2017, 10:49:43 PM »

Steve-O, the guy quoted by CJ. It all gets very confusing.


Ok I just read that post.

I wish I had read it before I deleted the movie from my DVR. I will have to catch it next time and then I will time it.

I wish that this guy Steve O had actually described with specifically the scenes that were removed from the longer cut; then I could know whether or not they were in the version that I saw.

Steve O mentions that TCM showed the short version but Eddie Muller’s Noir City would show the full version - well, considering that that this was Noir City on TCM presented by Eddie Muller, was this the full version? Who knows. Interesting that Muller himself makes no mention of the two versions - read what you want into that.

I’ll have to catch this again next time and time it. In the meantime, Jessica, don’t feel too bad. It’s not like this is a great movie. Decent noir, worth seeing when you get the chance, but not like a lost masterpiece.

To the techies here: I don’t have a DVD recorder. But if I have a show saved on my DVR, is there any way I can share it?

I do have an account with my cable company that allows me to view TCM on Demand; TCM often puts their movies playing that month online for viewers with an account with a cable company. (But THEY WON’t BELIEVE ME is not available on TCM on Demand.)

« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 10:51:51 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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