6 November 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
A false step
'Take One False Step' should have been good. It was a nice idea for a story, the title and advertising were intriguing and the genres that 'Take One False Step' falls under has seen some of my favourite films. What was especially appetising though was the cast, it is hard to go wrong with talent such as William Powell, Shelley Winters and James Gleason.
So how could a film that had that much potential go wrong? Unfortunately 'Take One False Step' does go wrong, badly and it is always frustrating when a film has so much going for it yet the execution is the opposite of what it should have been. Not a terrible film by all means and not without redeeming merits, but this should have been so much better, the flaws are numerous and quite big and the film is hardly a high point in the filmographies of all involved.
Granted, 'Take One False Step' looks good, shot with a moody look and with a nice atmosphere. There are moments of tension and some nice noir tropes, with the film starting well.
James Gleason and Marsha Hunt liven things up, as amusing as Gleason is Hunt especially is very good and could have had more screen time.
For those good things, there are some serious shortcomings. William Powell is always watchable, but the role just doesn't play to his strengths and Powell is just workmanlike and not much more. Shelley Winters has a role that is well suited to her and it shows in her performance, the problems are that she is in the film nowhere near as much as her billing suggests (her screen time is pretty limited) and somehow she felt slightly out of place. As did Sheldon Leonard. The direction is not incompetent but it is uninspired and while the music is not distracting as such it is one that one doesn't remember a note of not long after the film is over.
Characters aren't sharp enough and the script lacks tautness and is a tonal muddle. A tonal muddle is a good way to describe the film too, it tries to do too much and incorporate too many elements, few of them done well and they just don't gel together, giving the sense of not just biting off more than it could chew but also that it was not sure what it wanted to be or do with itself. There is a general lack of suspense and there is a lot of absurd contrivance, implausibility and dumbness (in how the characters act as well as the story itself), making the storytelling confused and not easy to take seriously despite the genre it falls under.
Summarising, a film that takes a false step. Really wanted to like this so much more. 4/10 Bethany Cox