Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
THE TATTERED DRESS
Famous criminal lawyer James Gordon Blane (Jeff Chandler) comes to a small town in Nevada to defend a couple who have been accused of murdering a bartender who supposedly raped the wife but more likely was one of her lovers. This alone might have made for an interesting movie, but this trial is over so quickly that many viewers may not even be aware of it. The main trial in The Tattered Dress comes about when Blane is accused of trying to bribe a witness, and he winds up defending himself in court (and doing such a lousy job of it that the outcome is highly improbable). This is an odd movie, with mostly unsympathetic characters, but some good performances to help put it over. Chandler adds no nuances to his character but he plays with intensity and authority. As the sheriff and his main adversary -- and a clever, dangerous one at that -- Jack Carson scores in one of his best roles since Mildred Pierce. Gail Russell certainly makes an impression as the almost hysterical woman who claims that Blane gave her five thousand dollars, and Elaine Stewart and Phillip Reed are fine as the sleazy couple who brought Blane to Nevada in the first place. Ed Platt, Edward Anderson, Jeanne Crain, and Paul Birch are fine in smaller but important roles. The film is interesting but not terribly convincing.
Verdict: Less here than meets the eye but it holds the attention and Carson is excellent. **1/2.