31 August 2002 | scrutiny
The illicit affair and the trial it spawned.
Clifford Odets possibly only foray into courtroom drama is a most successful one as evidenced by The Story on Page One.
Anthony Franciosa, (many MST fans will remember him as being the star of the 80's ABC series The Finder of Lost Loves) stars at what first seems to be a similar character to Paul Newman's in The Verdict, a drunk, down on his luck, lawyer getting the case of his career that will either make or break him.
But Odets subverts our initial belief as the story actually focuses on the illicit love affair/murder, whose participants include the ever, great character actor Gig Young and Rita Hayworth, the Lady from Shanghai herself, only to deceptively lull the audience into the intimate details of the backstory, seeing how the bored wife could easily be enticed to look outside of her marriage for the love she sorely needs, and the emotionally scarred CPA who could provide that love.
At the 45 minute mark we get the whole sordid affair in triplicate and one wonders why Odets decided to relate the story in such in way but as the rest of the film plays out at the trial, we see he shrewdly grounded the defendants' sympathies in our hearts whereby every setback and revelation resonates as much for us as for the protagonists.
Coming out in the same year that the topical, yet ultimately sloppily made Anatomy of the Murder, The Story on Page One manages to trump the former just from sheer acting chutzpah and deliberate yet intelligent pacing.
Another facet I found fascinating was Odets use of natural, everyday faces to populate this meller. From the middle-aged insurance seller with his hearing aid, to Katherine Squire's craggy teeth, one sees this is a story that could possibly be culled from a newspaper, relating the plight of the ugly, common man and not some glamorpuss Hollywoodized actor playing him.