Sunday, October 11, 2015

ACCUSED OF MURDER (1956)



Filmed in Naturama (Republic’s answer to Paramount’s VistaVision) and True Color, which for interior shots looked crisp and realistically, but cold, this is a pretty lackluster outing for a mostly competent cast. They lift this to a solidly average B-movie. You witness a murder. You arrange to meet the assumed murderer, hit man, Warren Stevens, with the intent of blackmail. How dumb do you need to be? Like Virginia Grey in this role. Her “dance for hire” job stinks and she looks marked for death from her first scene. Stevens insists he did not commit any murder and decks Grey. But neither are quite through. She pesters him by phone later, with Stevens returning to severely beat her as a final warning.

Stevens is on a short list of suspects, the other being Vera Ralston, who portrays a singer (after a fashion) whose nightclub is frequented by Sydney Blackmer, an underworld lawyer and assumed murderee. To him, her dubbed vocals are like sugar to a cockroach. I could of used closed captioning for some of her dialogue due to her thick accent. Despite this possible communication problem, Blackmer is interested in marriage, a thought that never occurred to her. He does not take her decision gracefully.

During the investigation the police lieutenant, David Brian, after hearing and translating her story, gets more involved with Ralston than official police procedure. His performance is solid and believable, coming off strong yet compassionate. He is sympathetic toward Ralston believing she is innocent, though growing evidence provide doubts. Squint-eyed Lee Van Cleef pressures Brian, suggesting he has a conflict of interest. Cleef possesses a most unfortunate name for an aspiring sergeant. Lackey. There are a few twists and curves to keep one guessing of how Blackmer expired with an ending which may surprise you. But by shaving fifteen minutes never to be missed, it could have played better as an sixty minute early TV drama.

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