Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Woman in Question (aka Five Angles On Murder)

(1950, UK, 88m, b/w)
d Anthony Asquith p Teddy Baird, Joseph Janni sc John Cresswell ph Desmond Dickinson ed John D. Guthridge ad Carmen Dillon m John Wooldridge cast Jean Kent, Dirk Bogarde, John McCallum, Susan Shaw, Hermione Baddeley, Charles Victor, Duncan Mcrae, Lana Morris, Joe Linnane, Vida Hope

Further evidence, as if it were needed, of Bogarde’s pre-eminence amongst screen actors. The year before Rashomon hit Cannes, this early effort has him as one of five protagonists giving statements to the police about their role in the murder of fortune teller “Madame Astra” (real name: Agnes). With a slippery central figure, the secondary characters carry the show admirably, and the flashback material is for the most part nicely modulated under Asquith’s typically professional if uninspired direction, but when we return to the business of actually having to solve the crime, tension dissipates and one largely ceases to care. Later in life, Bogarde spoke of the camera’s invidious ability to see into one’s head, and the marvelous transparency that makes his work so effective and affecting is already (un)comfortably in place, as neurotically-charged as anything in the Archers’ films of the period, and foreshadowing the more emotionally naked work to come.

© Time Out Film Guide

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