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

Thursday, June 12, 2014


SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950). Director: Patrick Jackson.

Early in Shadow On the Wall we learn that Celia (Kristine Miller), the wife of David Starrling (Zachary Scott), is having an affair with her own sister's fiance, Crane Weymouth (Tom Helmore). When sister Dell (Ann Sothern) learns of this ultimate betrayal, all of her pent-up sibling rage spills out and she shoots her sister dead; she then lets David take the rap. When she learns that David's young daughter Susan (Gigi Perreau) might have seen her commit the murder, she comes to the conclusion that the child must follow her stepmother into the grave. In the hands of a Hitchcock or any superior director, Shadow on the Wall might have been a nail-biting suspense item, but not only is it flaccid but it never quite recovers from its many improbabilities. For instance, little Susan is not an idiot and she's not that young, so she probably would have known her aunt Dell was responsible for the murder all along. And it's hard to believe that David would get the death penalty for a crime of passion that most likely would have been pled out as voluntary manslaughter. But at least the story holds your attention and the performances are good, including Nancy Davis-Reagan [East Side, West Side] as a child psychologist whose methods are bizarre to say the least, and John McIntire as her associate. Little Jimmy Hunt [Pitfall] has an amusing scene with Perreau [Journey to the Center of Time] where he covets a glass of chocolate milk she refuses to drink.A bathtub resuscitation sequence that is shot strictly from the victim's point of view in two shots and closeups is one of the more effective moments in the picture.

Verdict: Psychologically dubious. **.

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