Friday, March 30, 2012

They Won't Believe Me

This afternoon at 5:00 PM, TCM is showing They Won't Believe Me. Unfortunately, it's a movie that's a bit tough to give a synopsis of without giving away key spoiler elements.

Robert Young plays Larry Ballantine, a man who, at the beginning of the movie, is on trial for the killing of his wife. He and his lawyer have decided that the only way he can prove his innocence is to take the stand and tell the story of what really happened. There are a couple of problems, not least among them is the fact that his story is so fantastic that nobody could possibly believe it. Cue the flashback. (Note that, unlike Leave Her to Heaven, where reference is made to the Cornel Wilde character's having spent time in prison, the point at which They Won't Believe Me begins isn't quite that far along the story.)

Larry's claim is that he wasn't with his wife at the time she died. And this is another point against Larry. He's rather a charming playboy, displaying the same sort of charm we might have seen from Robert Montgomery in Night Must Fall or Cary Grant in Suspicion, albeit with rather a bit less menace than either of them. His marriage Greta (Rita Johnson) is not working, mostly because Larry doesn't really want to work. So he takes up first with Jane Greer and then with Susan Hayward, while the wife goes off to a ranch that's been in her family. It's at this point that the first unbelivable plot twist occurs....

I really don't want to give away the rest of the story, so I'll only hint at it by suggesting that it contains elements similar to the two deaths in Detour, and a further plot twist that might make you think a bit about The Postman Always Rings Twice. They Won't Believe Me isn't quite original or groundbreaking, but it's certainly entertaining. Even if you too won't believe Larry Ballantine's testimony; to be fair to the moviemakers, however, I don't think it's quite the point of the movie whether or not the testimony is actually the truth. Just sit back and be entertained.

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