Sunday, September 16, 2018

Why don't I see Paul Newman?

Another recent movie watch was the 1946 movie The Verdict which, having been made at Warner Bros., has unsurprisingly made its way to DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive scheme.

Sydney Greenstreet plays Grodman, Superintendent of Scotland Yard in the late Victorian era. His involvement in a recent case has sent yet another man to the gallows. But, it turns out that the man was innocent, as a witness proving the man's innocence returns from Australia. Oops. Poor Grodman has to resign, and his job is taken over by his great rival Buckley (George Coulouris).

Of course, crime goes on, and soon enough it looks like there might be more crime. Kendall (Morton Lowry) has a girlfriend on the side in the form of music hall singer Lottie (Joan Lorring), and a rival in an MP, Russell (Cavanagh). One morning, nothing is heard from Russell's room, and when his landlady Benson (Rosalind Ivan) tries to get him up, she gets worried enough to call Grodman, who lives across the street. Grodman breaks down the door, and the Benson recoils in horror as she sees a man dead!

He's obviously been murdered, since he was stabbed and there's no weapon nearby. But in a locked room with no way out? OK, obviously there had to be a way out, but there are no secret passages or anything. The new superintendent Buckley is brought in, and he's as perplexed by the case as everybody else.

Grodman, for his part, has an artist friend who lives in the same building as the murder victom, Emmric (Peter Lorre). The two see a way to conspire to embarrass Buckley publicly, since after all Buckley had embarrassed Grodman and cost him his job.

There should be a lot to like about The Verdict, but I think the reason this one is less well-known than some of the other Lorre-Greenstreet movies is deserved. The whole thing seems overly complex and like nobody truly had their heart in it. It's competent, and not exactly bad, considering the help from first-time feature director Don Siegel who would go on to much bigger things. It's worth a watch, but not the sort of movie I'd spend Warner Archive prices on.

No comments: