Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Vengeance is Mine (1949)
Charles Heywood (Valentine Dyall) hires a hitman to kill him. The reason is obvious. Charles is dying and he wants to be murdered in order to frame someone for his murder.
It’s all part of an obsessive campaign of revenge that he’s been waging against Richard Kemp (Arthur Brander). Charles had been a successful businessman. Kemp involved him, unwittingly, in a nasty fraud. Kemp got off scot-free but Charles served a lengthy prison term.
As soon as he was released Charles set about slowly destroying Richard Kemp.
Then fate threw a curve ball at Charles. His doctor informed him that he had six months to live. That’s when Charles came up with his clever plan to frame Kemp. He found a very unlikely hitman in the person of Sammy Parsons (Richard Goolden). Sammy seems like a silly jovial ageing eccentric but that’s why he’s such a deadly and successful hitman. Nobody would ever suspect him.
The other complication for Charles is his secretary Linda Farrell (Anne Firth). He’s fallen hopelessly in love with her, and she loves him. She has taught him that there’s more to life than revenge. She has given him a glimpse of happiness. But Charles has two sentences of death hanging over his head.
This was clearly a cheap movie. A quota quickie if you like.
Valentine Dyall is an interesting actor. He achieved his greatest fame in radio (he had a great voice). He did a lot of television work. In movies he mostly played supporting rôles. This is one of his very few starring rôles. He does quite a good job here, making Charles obsessive and disturbing in his obsessiveness but still fairly sympathetic. There’s a lot of good in Charles. He just needs a woman who can bring out that good in him. Maybe Linda can do that, but maybe it will be too late.
Charles slowly softens as he begins dimly to perceive what his quest for vengeance has done to him, and the gradual change in his character is believable. Linda is slowly teaching him to have trust. Maybe not trust in people in general, but he is learning to trust her and that’s a start.
Sam Kydd plays Charles’ faithful friend and business associate Stacy. This is one of Kydd’s more substantial parts and he’s very solid.
You know that there are several ways the plot could be resolved and although we suspect how it will end we can’t be certain. Cullimore’s script is quite competent.
This is one of ten movies in the Renown Pictures Crime Collection Volume 2 DVD boxed set. The quality of the movies is variable but it does include neglected gems such as The Third Alibi (1961) and Impulse (1954). The transfer for Vengeance is Mine is far from pristine but it’s perfectly watchable.
Vengeance is Mine isn’t a great movie but it’s decent entertainment as long as you don’t set your expectations too high. Recommended.