THREE CASES OF MURDER (director: David Eady (segment “You Killed Elizabeth”)/George More O’Ferrall (segment “Lord Mountdrago”)/Wendy Toye (segment “The Picture”); screenwriters: Sidney Carroll/Ian Dalrymple; cinematographer: Georges Périnal; editor: Gerald Turney-Smith; music: Doreen Carwithen; cast: Orson Welles (Lord Mountdrago), John Gregson (Edgar Curtain), Elizabeth Sellars (Elizabeth), Emrys Jones (George Wheeler), Alan Badel (Owen/Mr. X/Harry-the Bartender), André Morell (Dr. Audlin), Hugh Pryse (Jarvis), Leueen MacGrath (Woman in the House), Eddie Byrne (Snyder, Eddie Byrne), John Salew (Rooke); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ian Dalrymple/Alexander Paal; The Criterion Collection; 1955)
“Only mildly inviting and scary.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The British omnibus thriller includes two supernatural tales sandwiched around a whodunit. The first case, “The Picture,” was directed by Wendy Toye and is based on a short story by Roderick Wilkinson. A meek museum tour guide, Jarvis (Hugh Pryse), is puzzled over artpieces mysteriously missing. One day he notices the glass cover to his favorite landscape painting is broken and the only museum visitor is a stranger (Alan Badel, with roles in all three cases). Jarvis ends up following the stranger into the world of the painting with unbelievable horrific consequences. In the second case, “You Killed Elizabeth,” which is directed by David Eady and written by Sidney Carroll, lifelong friends, the more insecure George (Emrys Jones) and Edgar (John Gregson), question their friendship when Elizabeth, the girl they both love, turns up dead. The last case is the film’s centerpiece, “Lord Mountdrago.” It’s based on a story by W. Somerset Maugham and directed by George More O’Ferrall. Orson Welles plays Lord Mountdrago, the pompous secretary of state for foreign affairs, who goes bonkers from guilt and anxiety after he destroys the career of his political opponent from Parliament Owen (Baden). The retaliatory Owen has found a way to enter Mountdrago’s dreams.
All three segments are only mildly inviting and scary. The last segment with Welles is easily the best of the three, mainly because of the great actor left to own devices to ham things up by doing things such as leading a chorus to sing “Daisy, Daisy” and acting out a dream sequence. Overall the film is entertaining but not memorable.
REVIEWED ON 10/4/2005 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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