Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1946. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Peter Milne, Israel Zangwill. Cinematography by Ernest Haller. Produced by William Jacobs. Music by Friedrich Hollaender. Production Design by Ted Smith. Costume Design by Travilla. Film Editing by Thomas Reilly.
Sydney Greenstreet gives a deliciously subtle performance as a judge who is removed from his position after a man is proved innocent moments after being hanged for murder. Replaced by a morally righteous George Coulouris, Greenstreet gets interested in redemption when a neighbour and friend is murdered and suspicion falls on a gentleman friend with whom the victim was seen quarreling. The clues mount against the accused as Greenstreet and his buddy Peter Lorre walk the dark, foggy streets of Victorian London looking to solve a murder whose method is hard to figure out: the deceased was found in a locked room with sealed windows, which means someone somehow managed to kill him and then magically slip through the cracks in the wall. The film marks the directorial debut of the great Don Siegel and the genre isn’t as well suited to the director as his later, much more memorable action films would be, you get the sense that a great deal of plotting here is just red herrings to kill time. It looks great, though, and the opportunity to see actors who usually provide rich, colourful support in higher profile studio movies get the limelight in a film with high production values is a reward in itself.