She Played with Fire (1957)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama


She Played with Fire (1957) Poster

An insurance investigator runs into an ex-girlfriend, who is still as beautiful as he remembered her, but is now married. He soon finds himself involved in arson, blackmail, and murder.


6.9/10
357

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  • Arlene Dahl and Jack Hawkins in She Played with Fire (1957)
  • Arlene Dahl and Jack Hawkins in She Played with Fire (1957)
  • Jack Hawkins in She Played with Fire (1957)
  • Jack Hawkins in She Played with Fire (1957)
  • Christopher Lee in She Played with Fire (1957)
  • Violet Farebrother in She Played with Fire (1957)

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2 August 2015 | Bunuel1976
7
| FORTUNE IS A WOMAN (Sidney Gilliat, 1957) ***
The esteemed British writing-producing-directing team of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder seemed to divide their work between stylish thrillers and broad comedies – though not always each member of the unit would be responsible for their entries in any one particular genre, Gilliat's efforts tended to be more serious and therefore generally worthier of attention and less prone to become dated with the passage of time.

Anyway, this film again features Christopher Lee in just one scene (albeit an amusing one as a black-eyed movie star attempting to pull off an insurance fraud!) and, in a more substantial role than in the previously-viewed PORT AFRIQUE (1956), Dennis Price. The elaborate plot also involves arson, fake paintings, a blackmail scheme, and even the shaky rekindling of an old romance. The rather mismatched stars are Jack Hawkins (immediately prior to embarking upon his international/movie spectaculars phase with the same year's THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI) and American Arlene Dahl (just as unconvincingly married here to asthmatic and unbalanced aristocrat Price) who run the gamut of emotions trying first to hide their prior affair then facing it head-on following Price's fiery death, Hawkins accusing Dahl of the murderous deed and then compromising his position in the insurance firm he works for by sticking by her (even if he knows the blaze was deliberately ignited) and fend off the inevitable vultures – knowledgeable of this fact – over Price's estate. This being the 1950s, everything works its way satisfactorily towards a happy ending – down to Hawkins' associates literally chasing after him out on the streets in the final scene to retract his decision to resign rather than bring shame upon his colleagues and superiors!

As I said, the film is classy (even managing a few dream sequences to cloud Hawkins' mind during his mission) and reasonably absorbing (the identity of the chief blackmailers is quite a surprise) throughout – but taking care to also provide meaty supporting turns by the likes of Ian Hunter (as the proverbial "friend of the family"), Geoffrey Keen (as Hawkins' sympathetic superior), Bernard Miles (a similar role to the one he had just played in Hitchcock's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH {1956}), Greta Gynt as a middle-aged nymphomaniac(!) and Michael Goodliffe (as a dogged Police Inspector). Incidentally, the print I watched sported the somewhat more appropriate U.S. moniker of SHE PLAYED WITH FIRE and, while pristine enough, suffered from the occasional jerkiness…

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