Friday, July 27, 2012
Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958)
Anderson had a very long and fairly interesting career as a director in a variety of genres.
Chase a Crooked Shadow is set in Spain. Wealthy young socialite Kimberley Prescott (Anne Baxter) has a villa there. She is seeking seclusion after a series of family tragedies the year before - her father committed suicide and her brother Ward was killed in a car accident. Her quest for peace and tranquility comes to an end when her dead brother (played by Richard Todd) arrives on the doorstep.
So given that Kimberley identified Ward’s dead body after the car accident, how does this impostor hope to get away with his plan? There are two factors in his favour. Firstly, Kimberley is in a foreign country isolated from the rest of her family so she has no-one to back her up. And secondly she had a mental breakdown after her father’s death so the fake Ward can claim that she is still unstable. He manages to convince Police Commissar Vargas (Herbert Lom) that Kimberley is slightly unbalanced mentally and is playing a joke on him by pretending not to recognise him. Since the fake Ward’s papers are all in order it proves quite easy to convince Vargas.
And the movie has some nifty plot twists still up its sleeve.
Kimberley’s father had been a wealthy diamond magnate but when the company struck difficult times it was discovered than ten million pounds’ worth of diamonds had disappeared from the company safe. The diamonds have not been seen since.
So far the movie has given us no indication of exactly where it’s going and the mystery will deepen as those plot twists kick in. The atmosphere of unease and mystery will deepen. Anderson’s skillful direction keeps the mystery bubbling along. It’s also quite stylish in an unobtrusive way - he uses strange camera angles at times but he uses them sparingly and he always uses them for a reason.
This was the golden age of the British mystery thriller and this is a very good example of the genre. It becomes more and more a psychological thriller as Kimberley’s sanity starts to teeter on the edge of giving way.
Optimum’s Region 2 DVD is a beautiful transfer. It’s in the correct 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
Labels: 1950s, british cinema, crime movies, film noir
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