20 September 2016 | XhcnoirX
Slow but good thriller
Richard Basehart has moved on from his womanizing days in the US to steadier waters in the UK with wife Faith Brooke and now works as a successful producer for his wife's father Roger Livesey. During the production of his latest project, which stars one of his former flames Constance Cummings, he receives several letters from a person he doesn't know, claiming they had an affair. Initially thinking it's an attempt at blackmail, he shrugs it off. But when his wife also receives a letter, they decide enough is enough, and they visit the woman, Mary Murphy. When she persists in her story, even in front of the police, Basehart starts to have doubts. Could he really have forgotten?! Soon things start to fall apart for him, as Murphy's story, fabricated or not, starts to threaten his marriage as well as his career.
Released in the UK as 'The Intimate Stranger' and 'Finger Of Guilt' in the US, this movie starts off as a marital drama (told in flashback by Basehart), and slowly moves into thriller territories before culminating in a pretty exciting final 20 minutes inside a studio set. Written and directed by 2 men blacklisted by Hollywood, Joseph Losey ('The Prowler') and Howard Koch ('Casablanca'), the story can be easily seen as a metaphor for what they endured. But the movie never becomes self-righteous or preachy. Most of the movie is filmed in a matter-of-fact type of way, focusing squarely on Basehart ('He Walked By Night'), leaving the viewer guessing about Murphy ('The Desperate Hours') and the truth. Basehart is solid as a man who's confronted with a past he's forgotten about, or has he? Murphy however is great, she manages to come off as both lying and telling the truth at the same time, shrugging of his questions with ease, which in turn confuses him even more. The rest of the cast are also good, thankfully, as the movie is dialogue-heavy and has a pretty slow pace, especially in the first half.
Visually the movie combines 2 opposites. The opening scene as well as the climax are shot imaginatively, appealing to noir heads. The rest of the movie however is shot in a mostly shadow-less, almost TV-like, manner. Having said that, DoP Gerald Gibbs ('No Orchids For Miss Blandish') does a nice job. The climax inside a studio set is beautifully shot, with some creative shots and angles, including a fist fight that moves in and out of a light illuminating a projection screen used for dailies, projecting a shadow fistfight. It stands in stark contrast with the rest of the movie but it also makes the climax more effective. All in all, it's a good drama/thriller that skirts into noir territories. 7/10