29 December 2010 | bkoganbing
A Quiet Manipulator
The Walls Of Jericho finds both Cornel Wilde and Kirk Douglas as ambitious men and best friends who become estranged due to the behavior of their wives Ann Dvorak and Linda Darnell. Dvorak is an alcoholic and Darnell is a manipulator. The one thing that Darnell could not manipulate was an affair with Wilde who turned her down flat because of his friendship with Douglas. That sends Darnell into a quiet rage and her manipulations of people and events drives the film after that.
Also in the picture is Anne Baxter a female attorney in the ragtime era when such people were a rarity. She's the daughter of Henry Hull who was an attorney who Wilde admires, but who has fallen on bad times. She and Wilde hit it off professionally and personally, but when it looks like an affair might be in the offing, Baxter moves away.
However the arrest of young Colleen Townsend brings Wilde and Baxter together professionally. Townsend is charged with murdering town tough Barton MacLane and it will take some good lawyering to get her off. But that brings Darnell out who sees Wilde once again as a threat to her husband who is now a Congressman. And of course there's that ever present itch that Wilde has never scratched for her.
The Walls Of Jericho is a ragtime soap opera set in the Roosevelt-Taft era. The choice roles in this definitely are for the females with Darnell, Baxter, and Dvorak all making themselves memorable. In fact Baxter gets a chance at what is normally a male prerogative in the cinema, she gets to make a closing argument before a jury.
For reasons I don't understand this film is rarely seen and that does a disservice to the female cast members. This contains some of the best work any of the three leading ladies have done, especially Baxter. It will be a revelation if you get the chance to see this.