Death of a Scoundrel (1956)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir


Death of a Scoundrel (1956) Poster

The New York police investigates the murder of a Czech immigrant whose rags-to-riches story is told by his secretary to homicide detectives.


6.9/10
832

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Director:

Charles Martin

Writer:

Charles Martin

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23 October 2006 | copper1963
10
| Clementi could have been a giant--if he wasn't a born thief.
Except for a few "establishing" shots here and there and a heavy dose of rear projection magic in a taxi, this film is anchored to the studio. But James Wong Howe's camera work and Max Steiner's lush and diverse (some characters have their own themes) film score, the director refuses to allow the proceedings to take on a cramped and cold feel. George Sanders as "Clementi" is a piece of work. He germinates schemes with the speed of a jack hammer, and every enterprise he embarks on is cloaked in dishonesty and unethical business practices. Stay away from him like the German measles. He tosses away women like used paper tissues. He has no problem using Yvonne DeCarlo (the narrator of the film) to seduce his clients. She is his one true friend and she loves him. Clementi is nearsighted on such matters of the heart. No matter. Zsa Zsa Gabor is around the corner. She keeps him on a short leash and scores a few minor victories. But even she can't control the evil genius for long. I think the scene at the theater was screen writing genius. Clementi, attempting another play for a woman, bankrolls a young, gifted actress in a stage play she is perfect for. After the performance, she goes back to his room and they play out that very same scene in real life, blurring reality that much more. Marvelous. I love the final speech and walk down a long flight of stairs by DeCarlo. As a former dancer, she always had a great physical presence and grace. The music is soft but builds to a crescendo. She looks one way and then another. The camera pulls back as she turns and exits the house, a policeman's silhouette in the glass door. I'm a sucker for these types of dramatic endings. Think (and watch) Michael J. Fox at the end of Casualties of War, and you'll see what I mean.

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