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Author Topic: Witness to Murder (1954)  (Read 383 times)
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« on: August 28, 2014, 08:56:57 PM »

Witness to Murder (1954) 5.5/10

cast (courtesy of wikipedia)

    Barbara Stanwyck as Cheryl Draper
    George Sanders as Albert Richter
    Gary Merrill as Police Lt. Lawrence Mathews
    Jesse White as Police Sgt. Eddie Vincent
    Harry Shannon as Police Capt. Donnelly
    Claire Carleton as The Blonde
    Lewis Martin as Psychiatrist
    Dick Elliott as Apartment Manager
    Harry Tyler as Charlie
    Juanita Moore as Black Woman
    Joy Hallward as Fellow Worker
    Adeline De Walt Reynolds as The Old Lady
    Claude Akins as Police Officer
    Sam Edwards as Tommy - Counterman

Barbara Stanwyck sees George Sanders commit a murder, through the window across the street, reports it to the cops, but he hides the body before the cops can find it, so nobody believes her. She decides to play detective, to prove that a murder was indeed committed. So she tries to match her investigative wits against Sanders. So far so good.

But then, of course, she gets gaslighted. Every one says she is crazy (including the cop (Gary Merrill) called to investigate her story, who of course starts dating her). Even she begins to doutt herself. She gets a stint in a nuthouse. That gasligting stuff is annoying. And some of the dialogue is in the movie is not written very well. And the cop spends so much time saying in this whiny voice, "But how can you be sure?" UGHhhhhh

anyway, she gets outta the nuthouse, and begins to match wits against Sanders again .... now the movie is getting good again.

But no, once again she is told she is dreaming and unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. And once again, I groan.

then they awkwardly mix in other stuff - wait a minute, Sanders is a Nazi, and his murder of this whore is part of a goal of the violent ideology of Nazis taking over the world again!

This was so frustrating, going good bad good bad. As we discussed in the past, ratings are just the beginning of the conversation. Some movie that get this rating are just mediocre all along. This one goes good-annoying-good-annoying  Angry

The movie does have some nicely lit scenes with sanders in darkness making him look truly scary, that is one very solid accomplishment. Also, Sanders is a guy I love to watch, he is the kinda guy I laugh every time he starts speaking (hell, I laugh just thinking of him, I just love him too much to hate him as a Nazi (like Orson Welles in The Stranger), and besides, the Nazi stuff is thrown in so awkwardly for a moment, like, "we need to add a few minutes to a screenplay, so if we are gonna have a story about a murder that only two people know were committed - let's also throw in another minute about a nazi subplot, and a few minutes of gaslighting Stanwyck so she starts thinking she is crazy.

if they had simply stuck to Stanwyck matching wits with sanders, trying to prove he committed the murder as he tries to prove his innocence, it could have been a good movie.

BTW, IMO, Barbara Stanwyck has delivered some good performances, but (besides not being the tiniest bit attractive) she is absolutely NOT the kind of actress that always delivers a good performance. There are certain actors, e.g. Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Henry Fonda, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Mitchum, et. al, that you know are always good - sometimes great, sometimes very good, but can always be relied on to never deliver anything less than a very solid performance, even when the role isn't a particularly great one Stanwyck is absolutely not like that. Sure, she has delivered sme very good performances, but there are also movies, like this one, where she is no better than average; any one of 200 other actresses could have done as good a job as her. (When you combine that with the fact that she was about as unattractive as any woman who ever worked in Hollywood yeah DJ, she is not any better-looking than Katy Hepburn) there's no way she should have had that level of superstar fame. (By all accounts I have read, she was a true professional at work, but that shouldn't be enough to make a superstar.)

« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 08:59:13 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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