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

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Kent Smith and Robert Douglas
THIS SIDE OF THE LAW (1950). Director: Richard L. Bare.

Down and outer David Cummins (Kent Smith) is hired by lawyer Philip Cagle (Robert Douglas) to impersonate his client, Mr. Taylor, a man who has been missing for nearly seven years. David is able to fool the family dog, but he also has to fool his brother, Calder (John Alvin); his sister-in-law, Nadine (Janis Paige), who was having an affair with Taylor; and even his wife, Evelyn (Viveca Lindfors), who reveals that her husband was basically a contemptible person. Cagle claims that the point of the impersonation is to protect Evelyn's interests, but there may be something much more dangerous going on. Most of the story takes place on a creepy estate called Sans Souci, with a big house nestled nearly at the edge of a cliff. Smith [Paula] is okay in the lead, albeit typically bland; Lindfors [These are the Damned] seems atypically disinterested; but Douglas, Alvin [Shanghai Chest], and especially Paige are more on the mark. The trouble with the movie is that the characters are paper-thin, and the plot unravels much too easily; it has a nice ending, however. Nita Talbot is listed prominently in the movie's credits, but she seems to have been left on the cutting room floor. Her character of "Miss Goff" doesn't resemble the older secretary in the movie at all. Bare directed the classic "To Serve Man" episode on The Twilight Zone, more than one Virginia Mayo movie, and the split-screen horror film Wicked, Wicked, among others. Douglas was a busy actor who later directed many television episodes.

Verdict: Film noir lite with an insufficient script. **1/2 out of 4.

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