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drinkanddestroy
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« on: December 25, 2014, 02:35:37 PM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042952/

Shadow on the Wall (1950)

Zachary Scott plays a man wrongfully convicted of killing his wife; the real killer was his sister-in-law (Ann Sothern). Scott's little daughter (nice performance by child actress Gigi Perreau) saw the killing, but is too shell-shocked to recall or speak about it. After Scott is sent to prison, Pereau is sent to an orphanage, where the psychologist (Nancy Davis, later First Lady Nancy Reagan) tries to make the child recall the traumatizing event, believing that will cure the child, and find the real killer. But when Sothern finds out what Davis is up to, she determines to do whatever it takes to stop the psychologist from doing her work with the child before she is successful in helping the child recall the event.

I give it a 6/10

movies in those days involving psychology try to explain everything like it's a novelty, whereas today we take that stuff for granted (just like, eg. we have some police procedurals that explain the brilliance of forensic evidence while today that's nothing new or special). Like the psychologist here plays like Nancy Davis says something like, "You've heard of shell-shock in adults; well kids can be shell-shocked, too ..." and she tries to pull the story out of the kid by allowing the kid to pretend it happened to someone else. Meaning, she gives the kids dolls to play with, and tells the kid to tell her the story of what happens to the dolls, or her dreams of what happens to the dolls, knowing that what the kid is saying happened to the dolls is really what happened to her - since she is traumatized and in shock over witnessing the murder, she can't admit or perhaps doesn't even realize that these things happened to her, but she is able to relate (to) it only by telling it as the story of what is happening to the dolls.

Then, as time goes by, they pull more and more of the story out of her slowly, all while Ann Sothern is watching closely – pretending to just be the caring aunt, as the kid's only living relative. Davis wants to pull the story out of the kid to heal her - she feels that once the kid can tell the story in full as happening to her, she will be cured, but it's also a double race against time: she needs to be able to tell the story before her father, Zachary Scott, goes to the electric chair; and before the murderer, Ann Sothern, succeeds in her various nefarious plans to try to silence the child.

I don't find psychology that interesting – I don't mean "psychological movies" like those of Elia Kazan and Martin Scorsese; I mean literally, movies involving a psychologist trying to cure a patient – maybe this was fascinating and relatively new to an audience in 1950 (of course, they'd have known about soldiers having psychological problems, but the working of a psychologist, especially a pediatric one, may have been new). There's also the suspense element, as Sothern tries to silence the kid.
The ending has no surprises - when there are children involved in a movie, there rarely are.

This movie is really about the kid, and Sothern, and Nancy Davis. Zachary Scott – an actor whom I really like, one of those guys who was never a big leading man but IMO never gave anything less than a solid performance – doesn't really have much time here; he goes to Death Row like half an hour into the movie and then is rarely seen again. I was disappointed about that.

« Last Edit: December 27, 2014, 10:06:06 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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Spikeopath
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 01:50:45 AM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042952/

Shadow on the Wall (1950)

Zachary Scott plays a man wrongfully convicted of killing his wife; the real killer was his sister-in-law (Ann Sothern). Scott's little daughter (nice performance by child actress Gigi Perreau) saw the killing, but is too shell-shocked to recall or speak about it. After Scott is sent to prison, Pereau is sent to an orphanage, where the psychologist (Nancy Davis, later First Lady Nancy Reagan) tries to make the child recall the traumatizing event, believing that will cure the child, and find the real killer. But when Sothern finds out what Davis is up to, she determines to do whatever it takes to stop the psychologist from doing her work with the child before she is successful in helping the child recall the event.

I give it a 6/10

movies in those days involving psychology try to explain everything like it's a novelty, whereas today we take that stuff for granted (just like, eg. we have some police procedurals that explain the brilliance of forensic evidence while today that's nothing new or special). Like the psychologist here plays like Nancy Davis says something like, "You've heard of shell-shock in adults; well kids can be shell-shocked, too ..." and she tries to pull the story out of the kid by allowing the kid to pretend it happened to someone else. Meaning, she gives the kids dolls to play with, and tells the kid to tell her the story of what happens to the dolls, or her dreams of what happens to the dolls, knowing that what the kid is saying happened to the dolls is really what happened to her - since she is traumatized and in shock over witnessing the murder, she can't admit or perhaps doesn't even realize that these things happened to her, but she is able to relate (to) it only by telling it as the story of what is happening to the dolls.

Then, as time goes by, they pull more and more of the story out of her slowly, all while Ann Sothern is watching closely – pretending to just be the caring aunt, as the kid's only living relative. Davis wants to pull the story out of the kid to heal her - she feels that once the kid can tell the story in full as happening to her, she will be cured, but it's also a double race against time: she needs to be able to tell the story before her father, Zachary Scott, goes to the electric chair; and before the murderer, Ann Sothern, succeeds in her various nefarious plans to try to silence the child.

I don't find psychology that interesting – I don't mean "psychological movies" like those of Elia Kazan and Martin Scorsese; I mean literally, movies involving a psychologist trying to cure a patient – maybe this was fascinating and relatively new to an audience in 1950 (of course, they'd have known about soldiers having psychological problems, but the working of a psychologist, especially a pediatric one, may have been new). There's also the suspense element, as Sothern tries to silence the kid.
The ending has no surprises - when there are children involved in a movie, there rarely are.

This movie is really about the kid, and Sothern, and Nancy Davis. Zachary Scott – an actor whom I really like, one of those guys who was never a big leading man but IMO never gave anything less than a solid performance – doesn't really have much time here; he goes to Death Row like half an hour into the movie and then is rarely seen again. I was disappointed about that.

I go a point higher than yourself, unlike yourself I do find psychologist movies interesting - that is if the part is well written and performed, as it is here. Plus it has good visual ticks and a strong score to back it up.

Thanks for the review/read, my own is below.

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Spikeopath
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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2017, 01:51:24 AM »

Stupid Cupid?

Shadow on the Wall is directed by Pat Jackson and adapted to screenplay by William Ludwig from the story "Death in the Doll's House" written by Lawrence P. Bachmann and Hannah Lees. It stars Ann Sothern, Zachary Scott, Nancy Davis, Giggi Perreau and John McIntire. Music is by Andrι Previn and cinematography by Ray June.

A nifty psychological hot pot this one. Story centers on a young child called Susan Starrling (Perreau), who after witnessing the murder of her step-mother, succumbs to amnesia. Which is inconvenient for her father since he has been convicted of the murder and sent down to await execution. Can determined psychiatrist Caroline Cranford (Davis) eek the truth out of Susan's troubled memory? Can the real killer ensure that that isn't the case?

It's a personal thing of course, but I have always found there to be something off kilter about doll's houses, and here we are greeted to an opening shot of one, superbly accompanied by Previn's ominous music, it's a perfect mood setter as to what is to come. Story lacks any mystery dynamic since we are privy to exactly what has gone on regarding the who, why and what fors, and in truth the outcome of it all is never really in doubt. So for although it's a thriller pic dressed up in film noir clobber, it doesn't have the verve or devilment to really be classed full bodied as such. But that's by the by, visually and the presence of a child in peril, with main character disintegration the key feature, puts it into noir lovers considerations.

Since the title features the word shadow it's no shock to find shadows and low lights feature prominently. The lighting effects are very striking, the changes in contrasts perfectly befitting the mood of certain scenes. Such as when dialogue is implying emotional discord, or the silent mindset of our antagonists, while a couple of neat shadow smother shots are killer narrative boosts. The main building of the piece is not the doll's house, but that of the hospital where Susan is receiving treatment, and at night photographer Ray June perfectly sets it up for peril and dastardly deeds. While we also get a bit of wobble screen to signify troubled mental confusion.

Cast range from adequate to very good. Honours go to Perreau, who is never once annoying, turning in an involving performance that has us firmly involved in her world, whilst Davis (the future First Lady Reagan) is very understated, where she gets a well written female character whose not relying on male dominance to expand the part. And with Jackson directing in an unfussy manner it rounds out as a pic worth seeking out. 7/10

DVD - Copy.

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