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GUILTY, THE (director: John Reinhardt; screenwriters: from the short story “Two Men in a Furnished Room” by Cornell Woolrich/Robert R. Presnell, Sr.; cinematographer: Henry Sharp; editor: Jodie Caplan; music: Rudy Schrager; cast: Bonita Granville (Linda Mitchell/Estelle Mitchell), Don Castle (Mike Carr), John Litel (Alex Tremholt), Wally Carsell (Johnny Dixon), Regis Toomey (Detective Heller), Ruth Robinson (Mrs. Mitchell), Thomas E. Jackson (Tim McGinnis, Bartender), Caroline Andrews (The Whistler, Miss Waters), Oliver Blake (Jake, The Janotor); Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Wrather; Monogram; 1947)
“Always kept me interested in the twisty plot.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Reinhardt economically directs a crisp crime thriller from the screenplay by Robert R. Presnell, Sr. that is based on the short story “Two Men in a Furnished Room” by Cornell Woolrich. Though the surprise ending is hardly convincing or for that matter original (Robert Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror covered the same territory of identical twins in a superior fashion), and the acting was rather stiff, nevertheless this cheapie Monogram flick always kept me interested in the twisty plot and was quite engaging as it adequately covered the film noir conventions of following the dark sides of the main characters.

The film opens with Mike Carr (Don Castle) returning to his former neighborhood’s friendly tavern after a year’s absence, where he tells old-time bartender Tim McGinnis that he made a date six months ago to meet here a blonde he was dating before her twin sister was killed. Mike needed time to sort things out and clear out the ghosts of that grizzly murder, which he explains as the reason for cutting off the relationship with someone he felt strongly about. Feeling the need to get things off his chest, Mike relates the full story of the murder to an attentive Tim.

It begins with Mike sharing his humble walk-up apartment with Johnny Dixon (Wally Carsell), the lieutenant the corporal served under who was discharged from the service on a psychological after a battle injury. Johnny in civilian life can’t hold a job living off his disability, while the ambitious Mike holds down a job and attends night school to advance his career. The wastrel Johnny spends his time chasing broads and drinking. His current girl Estelle Mitchell (Bonita Granville) plays him for a sucker, as she’s dating a number of other men. This causes Johnny to dump her in favor of her nice-girl twin sis Linda Mitchell (Bonita Granville), which irritates the insanely jealous Estelle who has an insatiable need for the attention of many men.

One fatal night Linda is missing, as reported by her stern mom Mrs. Mitchell and the long-time elderly boarder Alex Tremholt (John Litel). Linda’s body is later found stuffed in a barrel of tar on the roof of Mike’s building and there are indications from bruises on her head that she was first stuffed down the incinerator but was removed when her body couldn’t fit. Detective Heller (Regis Toomey), the persistent chief investigator, indicates the evidence points to Dixon as the main suspect, but Tremholt becomes a suspect when it’s learned that he had a romantic interest in the girls that was never fully reciprocated and filed down his nails perhaps in the hopes of removing tar stains. It’s also learned that Mike dated Estelle when she split with Dixon, and Heller doesn’t rule him out as a suspect.

It’s up to Heller to put all the pieces of this puzzle together, which he does when the third act leaves the flashback and Estelle meets Mike in the tavern as planned.

REVIEWED ON 12/7/2004 GRADE: B –

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”