Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


CHASE A CROOKED SHADOW (1958). Director: Michael Anderson.

On an estate near Barcelona, Kim Prescott (Anne Baxter) is mourning the death of her father. Then a stranger named Ward Prescott (Richard Todd) shows up claiming to be Kim's brother. But Kim insists to police commissar Vargas (Herbert Lom) that her brother was killed in an auto accident the year before. "Ward" then invites a woman, Elaine Whitman (Faith Brook), to move in with them. Kim does everything she can to expose the man she insists is an impostor, but no matter what she tries it seems that the strange man is really Ward Prescott. Even her uncle Chandler (Alexander Knox) thinks Ward is the real deal, and there's some skulduggery involving missing diamonds. Then Kim begins to fear for her life ... Chase a Crooked Shadow is an intriguing suspense film with Baxter [Carnival Story] chewing the scenery in superior fashion -- she actually gives an outstanding performance wherein her intensity and overwrought quality makes perfect sense. Todd [Stage Fright], Lom [Mark of the Devil] , and the others are pretty much along for the ride. The ending is satisfying if implausible, as -- without giving too much away -- we have a case of entrapment, coerced confessions, and the police acting in such a way that would probably never hold up in court. Chase a Crooked Shadow might have been even more interesting if we could have witnessed the legal shenanigans that would have resulted after the end of the story proper. Producer Douglas Fairbanks Jr. shows up at the finale to admonish the audience not to give away the denouement.

Verdict: Anne steals the show! ***.

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