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

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Susan Hayward hurls angry accusations
I THANK A FOOL (1962). Director: Robert Stevens.

"It belongs to the genre in which the plot never stops thickening and significant entrances are made through French windows." -- London Times review.

Dr. Christine Allison (Susan Hayward) is put on trial for the alleged mercy killing of her dying lover and is prosecuted by Stephen Dane (Peter Finch). Christine is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to two years in jail, then is contacted by a mysterious employer who wishes to hire her services. The employer turns out to be Stephen Dane  -- of course, as Finch is Hayward's co-star --  who wants Christine to look after his emotionally-disturbed wife, Liane (Diane Cilento of The Wicker Man). But Christine senses there are other things wrong in this strange household. Were it not for its upper-class cast, I Thank a Fool would come off like one of those twisty Jimmy Sangster Hammer psycho-thrillers, and frankly, it might have worked better if that's what it had been. The three leads are all excellent, and there's nice work from Kieron Moore [Crack in the World] as the stable keeper, Cyril Cusack as Liane's father, and Athene Seyler as Aunt Heather. The main problem with the movie, which holds the attention without being terribly suspenseful and has some interesting if suspect plot elements, is that it tries to be too clever for its own good. There is -- I think -- a murder finally committed in the final quarter of the film, but the solution to the alleged mystery is completely inexplicable. The sequence (and scenery) when Christine takes Liane on a trip back home to her village in Ireland is quite good. Robert Stevens also directed Finch in In the Cool of the Day.

Verdict: Hayward gives her all but it's not really a worthy project for her -- or Finch. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Too bad--this genre is right up my alley and I love Peter Finch; do you think that the chemistry of the two stars makes up for the script? Or should I give it a pass?

William said...

Well ... I must say the film is not boring, but I couldn't call it a must-watch, either. The two stars do play together better than expected. You might take a chance on it ...