1 November 2010 | secondtake
Really smart, with convincing acting, and dark, inky interiors.
Dear Murderer (1947)
What a fabulous, complicated, feint and double feint movie about murder, attempted and otherwise. It's a very British feeling film, and though it has a film noir darkness (very dark, in my copy), it doesn't have the angularity nor the action of an American noir. More defining, though, is the deliberate parlor game feel to this very deadly situation. You might compare (if comparing is helpful) to the Joan Crawford "Sudden Fear" to make this most obvious.
There is a lot of sparring with words here, very smartly written, and you have to pay attention as the intentions of the characters seem to be shifting all the time. You have to have the low key, steadfast, opaque, and clever detective of course, and the detective here is brilliantly all those things. And you have to have motive, which we have in abundance.
And you need abundance since so much is going to go wrong here. Eric Portman is the key figure through it all, and he plays a jilted husband with laconic brilliance. His wife, and his wife's several lovers, are all excellent in support, each either surpassingly innocent at heart despite their adulteries, or really devious and selfish. It's beautifully constructed, and really a joy. But you have to pay attention. No getting up for popcorn here.