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TWIST OF FATE (AKA: BEAUTIFUL STRANGER)(director: David Miller; screenwriters: Carl Nystrom/Robert Westerby; cinematographer: Edward Scaife; editor: Alan Osbiston; music: Malcolm Arnold; cast: Ginger Rogers (Joan ‘Johnny’ Victor), Herbert Lom (Emil Landosh), Stanley Baker (Louis Galt), Jacques Bergerac (Pierre Clemont), Margaret Rawlings (Marie Galt), Eddie Byrne (Luigi); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Maxwell Setton/John R. Sloan; United Artists; 1954-UK)
“Unbelievable from the get-go and only gets more ridiculous as the plot holes deepen.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

David Miller (“Midnight Lace”/”Billy the Kid”/”Sudden Fear”) directs this heavy-handed Brit romantic/suspense yarn that’s unbelievable from the get-go and only gets more ridiculous as the plot holes deepen. Ginger Rogers (Joan ‘Johnny’ Victor) and her then-husband Jacques Bergerac (Pierre Clemont) costar. It’s written by Carl Nystrom and Robert Westerby. It was released in the U.K. as The Beautiful Stranger.

Former American show gal Johnny, a naive innocent, is no longer impoverished when she gets involved with shady Brit international industrialist Louis Galt (Stanley Baker), a married man who promises her his divorce from Marie (Margaret Rawlings) is imminent and then he will marry her. He sets Johnny up in a fancy Cannes villa and buys her expensive jewels and she becomes a kept woman. Marie’s family controls the business that he has made much richer due to unethical business practices, but can’t stand him and would remove him from the business if Marie didn’t still love him. Unknown to Johnny and Marie, Louis is the leader of a gang producing counterfeit gold coins.

The twist of fate is when at a casino, Johnny runs into the shifty good-for-nothing husband of her actress friend, Emile Landosh (Herbert Lom), who we will later learn has a connection with her crooked would-be hubby. Emile’s wife is in a sanitarium back in the States, for whom Johnny for some reason helps support. Emile borrows money from Johnny to gamble, lying to her that it was for his wife’s treatment. When the dullish Johnny learns that Marie is in Cannes, she acts betrayed and rants that she feels cheapened. In a fit of anguish, she wrecks her fancy car while driving too fast on a country road and gets help from nice-guy potter Pierre. He falls for her, and a long string of events gets her to recognize her Louis is not only a rotten apple but a violent thug. In the meantime, Emile needed cash to pay back Louis. When threatened by Louis’ henchman Luigi (Eddie Byrne), he cracks open the safe in Johnny’s villa and steals a bracelet that Louis just gave her. It leads to a case of mistaken identity, whereby Louis thinks Emile is Johnny’s lover, and when confronting him as he again robs his safe the two tussle with fatal consequences. Johnny and Pierre, when caught up in the violence, team up to catch all the bad guys.

This second-rate B film plays as a third-rate B film. The acting made me roll my eyes in disbelief, the dialogue was trite and the narrative was ludicrous. No character deserved our sympathy in this turgid thriller and not one scene seemed natural.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”