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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

THE BIG BLUFF

John Bromfield
THE BIG BLUFF (1955). Director: W. Lee Wilder.

Valerie Bancroft (Martha Vickers) doesn't know that her doctor [whom I wouldn't trust to diagnose a dog!]  has told her secretary-companion, Marsha (Eve Miller), that she has a weak heart and only a few months to live. While Marsha bonds with Valerie's new doctor, Peter Kirk (Robert Hutton), Valerie is quite taken with a sexy dark-haired fellow named Ricardo De Villa (John Bromfield), who is already involved with an attractive dancer named Fritzie (Rosemarie Stack). Ric romances the very wealthy widow Valerie even as he keeps time with Fritzie and tries to avoid the latter's jealous husband, Don (Eddie Bee). Then he cooks up a scheme to get his hands on all that loot with a smitten Fritzie's help ... The Big Bluff is not a world-beater but it holds the attention and Bromfield and Stack give flavorful performances. Vickers' performance is mediocre, but Miller and Hutton are better. The ending is ironic if unconvincing. Robert Bice is the original doctor who makes the fatal diagnosis. Handsome Bromfield usually starred in movies like this and Curucu, Beast of the Amazon, but he also appeared in The Furies with Barbara Stanwyck and other better-known films in smaller roles. Stack, originally known as Rosemarie Bowe [as she's billed in this picture], married Robert Stack the following year, but she didn't use his last name professionally until the 70's. Vickers was better in Alimony.

Verdict: Like an extended TV mystery but it's fun. **1/2.

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