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

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Keith Andes and Angela Lansbury
A LIFE AT STAKE (1954). Director: Paul Guilfoyle.

An out-of-work architect named Edward Shaw (Keith Andes) is given an attractive business proposal by wealthy Doris Hillman (Angela Lansbury) and her older husband, Gus (Douglass Dumbrille). The catch is that Shaw will have to be insured for a very large sum of money, with Gus being the beneficiary. Shaw's paranoia over this aspect of the alliance only increases when he is drawn into a romance with Doris, and can't tell if she really loves him or is just waiting for hubby to collect on the insurance. Then there are the suspicious "accidents" ...  Andes [Clash By Night] makes a compelling, if understandably grumpy, leading man, and Dumbrille [Mr. Deeds Goes to Town] is typically excellent. Lansbury [Please Murder Me] gives a good performance as well, but while attractive, she is not quite convincing as the sexy, femme fatale type. [Ironically, a less talented "B" actress probably could have filled the bill better.] Jane Darwell is fine if a bit wasted as a landlady. A Life at Stake holds the attention and is not entirely predictable.

Verdict: Watch out for spiked coffee! **1/2.

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