After a brain-damaged man confesses to murder and is committed, Dr. Ann Lorrison tries to prove his innocence.After a brain-damaged man confesses to murder and is committed, Dr. Ann Lorrison tries to prove his innocence.After a brain-damaged man confesses to murder and is committed, Dr. Ann Lorrison tries to prove his innocence.
It is obvious to a casual viewer that the performance of Robert Taylor is superior to most of his other films that exploited his physical attributes more than his innate talent. Taylor would have been a good material for intelligent directors but unfortunately few worked with him. Director Curtis Bernhardt, with European experience behind him, utilized the range of emotions that he could extract from Taylor and the usually "wooden" Taylor emerges as an intelligent, purposeful individual.
The obvious weaknesses is the science of psychotherapy, brain surgery and truth serums that are presented in the film, which we now know is antiquated and is incorrect. Bernhardt has been criticized for his apathetic depiction of mental asylums in the film. All of this is correct but what would you do in the Forties if that is what you knew of the subject at that time.
Director Bernhardt to me is the person to be most admired in this movie, not actor Taylor. Take the sequence of the visit of the asylum staff to the house of the mother of the lead male character. You see the milk bottles and the newspapers outside the door. You have no response to the doorbell. Then you see a child peeking from behind the curtains and meekly opening the door. No word is spoken. The dead mothers feet are shown to us. Cut to another sequence. That is great cinema--good understanding of psychology, and deliberate underplaying of emotions by merely using visuals and editing the shots without resorting to emotional dialog.
The second most interesting facet of the film is the script. The rain used in the film (couldn't have been from the original play) adds so much to the atmosphere of the film. The sequences in the restaurants and bars, however short, are highlights of the strong script.
The editing, antiquated as it looks nearly 60 years after the film was made, is noteworthy for its crispness and relevance. The camera-work, exploiting shadows on frosted glasses and dark alleys, is equally remarkable.
Curtis Bernhardt could have been proud of this work despite its weakness for researching the subject inadequately. Handsome Taylor can be credited with a handful of good performances and strangely all of those performances had him playing anti-heroes. This is is one of those few.
- Mar 14, 2003