THE UNGUARDED HOUR
(director: Sam Wood; screenwriters: Ladislas Fodor/Bernard Merivale/Howard Emmett Rogers/Leon Gordon/Horace Jackson; cinematographer: James Van Trees; editor: Frank E. Hull; music: William Axt; cast: Loretta Young (Lady Helen Dudley Dearden), Franchot Tone (Sir Alan Dearden), Lewis Stone (General Lawrence), Roland Young (William Jeffers), Jessie Ralph (Lady Agatha Hathaway), Dudley Digges (Samuel Metford), Aileen Priggle (Diana Roggers); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sam Wood/ Lawrence Weingarten; Warner Home Video (MGM); 1936)
“A suspenseful English drawing room mystery.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Sam Wood (“The Stratton Story”/”A Night At The Opera”/”Kitty Foyle”) directs this outstanding cast in a suspenseful English drawing room mystery. It’s based on a play by Ladislas Fodor. The team of the following writers handle the screenplay: Bernard Merivale, Howard Emmett Rogers, Leon Gordon and Horace Jackson.
At the London residing socialite Dearden’s party, the party-crasher stranger Hugh Lewis (Henry Daniell) asks Lady Helen Dearden (Loretta Young) for £ 2,000 for the letters he has from her husband Sir Alan Dearden (Franchot Tone) to Diana Roggers (Aileen Priggle). He blackmails her by threatening to make the letters of her prosecutor hubby public and thereby damaging his career.
Things take a twist when Lady Helen goes to the cliffs of Dover to pay the blackmailer and she witnesses a woman falling off the cliffs. Later her hubby is called back from a vacation in France and asked to prosecute Sam Metford (Dudley Digges) for pushing his wife off the cliffs. Lady Helen has every reason to believe Sam is innocent. The problem is that if she testifies for the defense, knowledge of what business she had would come to light and hubby’s affair would be exposed. Her dilemma is further aggravated when Diana is brutally murdered, which occurred on the day Alan missed a friend’s christening and he has a weak explanation for his absence. The twists keep coming, as the search for truth defies reason but is nevertheless entertainingly accomplished.
REVIEWED ON 10/24/2014 GRADE: B