22 January 2015 | dglink
Cooper and Kerr in a Hitchcock-Like that is Hitchcock-Lite
During after hours in a nearly empty London office, a man is murdered and a sack of cash stolen. George Radcliffe, an American associate, is working late and witnesses the murderer's escape. Later, he is the key witness in a trial that sends the accused man to prison. But was he guilty? Where did the money go? Michael Anderson's 1961 thriller, "The Naked Edge," is a nicely done mystery that echoes Hitchcock's "Suspicion" in many respects. Hitchcock is also linked to the film through screenwriter Joseph Stefano, who earlier wrote "Psycho" and adapted the novel "First Train to Babylon" for this film. At age 60, Gary Cooper was at the end of his career and near the end of his life. Although looking tired as Radcliffe, Cooper manages, like Cary Grant in "Suspicion," to maintain his nice-guy image, while suggesting something darker and enigmatic. Lovely Deborah Kerr matches Joan Fontaine as the loving, but doubting wife. Kerr is at the center of the film as clues surface, her suspicions grow, and she seeks the truth behind both the murder and her husband's inexplicable behavior.
A stellar cast of stalwart British actors support the stars; led by Hermione Gingold and the priceless Wilfred Lawson, the list includes Michael Wilding, Peter Cushing, Eric Porter, and Diane Cilento. The black-and-white cinematography by Erwin Hillier captures appropriately gritty images of working class London and shadowy atmospherics that enhance the climactic suspense. Only William Alwyn's music tends to overwhelm early in the film, when the composer telescopes the action and loudly punctuates critical moments. While Anderson is not Hitchcock, and "The Naked Edge" is not "Suspicion," the director manages to maintain a brisk pace, build tension and suspense, and reach an exciting and satisfying climax.
Well done throughout, "The Naked Edge" will grip viewers and keep them absorbed to the end and beyond, when a voice-over warns the audience not to divulge the ending. Of interest for more than just a great American star's final role or for another opportunity to admire the always radiant Deborah Kerr, the film is a taut thriller that delivers. Although Hitchcock-like and Hitchcock-lite, "The Naked Edge" is worthwhile, even if dedicated crime buffs will likely outpace Kerr and guess the outcome.