|Sydney Greenstreet and Rosalind Russell|
"You've produced so many bad plays you're beginning to believe them."
Broadway actress Valerie Stanton (Rosalind Russell) wants to break away from her usual producer, Gordon Dunning (Leon Ames) and the treacle he has her appear in, and try "Hedda Gabler," but he only laughs at her. Dunning, who refuses to let her go and is carrying a torch for her as well, threatens her, and during a struggle Valerie bops him on the head and kills him. This is followed by a long flashback during which Valerie meets new love Michael Morrell (Leo Genn of Personal Affair), who is not only unimpressed by her status but is positively condescending -- and unattractive to boot; nevertheless Valerie falls for him. The third part of the film brings in Sydney Greenstreet as the corpulent Captain Danbury, who is a fan of Val's and is investigating the murder. The front runner in suspects is not Val but Marian Webster (Claire Trevor), who has been pining for Dunning for years, hates Val, and is incredibly bitter. Will Valerie come clean about what happened, or let Marian take the rap? The Velvet Touch is no All About Eve -- made two years later -- but it is a very entertaining backstage drama with an outstanding performance by Russell and fine support from Trevor [The High and the Mighty], Ames, and Greenstreet. Irving Bacon scores as a chatty waiter at Sardi's, and Lex Barker is also in the cast as a young actor.
Verdict: Strangely compelling. ***.