3 October 2009 | blanche-2
MGM launches Richard Chamberlain into the movies
TV's Dr. Kildare, Richard Chamberlain, a huge matinée idol back in the '60s, was given "Twilight of Honor" by MGM to cash in on his popularity and make him into a movie star. To do that, they gave him excellent support in the form of Claude Rains, Nick Adams, James Gregory, Jeanette Nolan, Honor Blackman, and Pat Buttram. The result by today's standards isn't very hard-hitting, though it's certainly well acted. The film is directed by Boris Sagal, who did a lot of television, and as a movie, it isn't as good as "Anatomy of a Murder," from which the script is pretty much ripped off.
Chamberlain plays a young attorney and widower, David Mitchell who's assigned a rotten case, that of an unstable soldier accused of murdering one of the small New Mexico town heroes, and he's confessed - twice. The special prosecutor (Gregory) is hoping to sweep into political office with the case, and the judge sides with him through most of the trial. Mitchell turns to the distinguished attorney and his friend, Art Harper, who is ill but nonetheless is full of fire and gives Mitchell some guidance. The defense is a New Mexico law that allows a man to kill because of adultery, something the victim's widow (Jeanette Nolan) and his friends would like to keep quiet.
Joey Heatherton plays the slutty wife of Nick Adams, and she gives a very overt performance. Nick Adams, who would die of an overdose five years later, has a good role and does an excellent job; it earned him an Oscar nomination, and he allegedly spent over $8,000 advertising to win it. He lost to Melvyn Douglas. Jeanette Nolan is lovely and serene as the victim's wife. Claude Rains in one of his last films is marvelous. He looks unwell but his acting is wonderful. Richard Chamberlain even then had a strong enough talent to hold his own against the more experienced actors. As David, he's passionate and determined. Although in the last 46 years, he's had a decent film career, certainly it doesn't compare to his King of the Miniseries crown or some wonderful stage work, including Night of the Iguana and My Fair Lady, both of which I saw and loved. As a baby boomer, he has a special place in my heart.
This film was probably intended for the teen crowd, Chamberlain's fan base, which is why there's a lot of talk about sex but no real action.