Saturday, April 16, 2016

THE BIG BLUFF (1955)


The big bluff is John Bromfield, looking dashing yet untrustworthy with a pencil mustache. He loves a nightclub entertainer. They are both being hounded by her estranged husband. Untrustworthy is exactly how he sees Bromfield. Thankful that this only seventy minutes, it is still a fairly intriguing noir.

The film, produced by Planet Filmplays and distributed by United Artists, (a match made in heaven) opens at the bedside of a rich widow, played by Martha Vickers, terminally ill with a heart condition. Her secretary and doctor, Robert Hutton, think it best not to tell her, feeling a positive outlook would be best for her. The doctor also suggests a move to a more remote part of Los Angeles for peace and quiet. The views from her window are spectacular if the smog ever clears. Hutton gives a rather comatose performance.

While dining out the secretary meets Bromfield who then learns about Vickers and her wealth. He wines and dines the rich widow and goes diabolical after learning of her health. They marry and he does his best to wear her down with late night parties and physical activity. He replaces her medication in capsules with sodium bicarbonate in one pill container, keeping the real medicine to back up his vow to take care of her. He puts the sin in sincerity. 

I found it annoying that Vickers acts like a schoolgirl, gushing over him every moment. But her secretary sees right through Bromfield’s phony behavior, especially after noticing two identical pill boxes. The doctor, along with a detective, test the pills and confirm something is truly wrong with Bromfield.


As part of his diabolical plan, Bromfield suddenly becomes nasty to his wife, ranting and raving. This is simply a cover for him to storm off to Palm Springs, return and confess his intimate indiscretions. To back up his story and his carefully planted evidence, his girlfriend dutifully drives to Palm Springs. Instead of a Palm Springs weekend, however, his real plan is simply to kill Vickers while she sleeps, drive around then return and "discover" someone has killed his beloved wife. The last ten minutes is the reason to see the film through.  A slick double-twist that will have your frown turned upside down.

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