(director: Fyodor Otsep; screenwriters: Sydney Banks/Rian James/from a story by George Zuckerman and Michael Lennox; cinematographer: William Steiner Jr.; editors: Leonard Anderson/Douglas W. Bagier/Richard J. Jarvis; music: Morris C. Davis; cast: Paul Lukas (Albert Frédéric), Mary Anderson (Mary Roberts), Helmut Dantine (Michel Lacoste), John Pratt (Edward Durant, editor), George Alexander (Insp. Renaud), Joy Lafleur (Blanche Lacoste), Arthur Lefebvre (sleigh driver), Mimi D’Estée (Renée Brancourt), Henri Poitras (Detective at Blanche’s Apartment); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George Marton; Eagle Lion; 1947-Canada)
“Too many coincidental plot points to be believable.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Watchable minor film noir, that is competently directed by Fyodor Otsep from a story by George Zuckerman and Michael Lennox. The acting by Paul Lukas and Helmut Dantine is far beyond what you would expect in such a cheapie film. But the narrative has too many coincidental plot points to be believable, though the crisply told story is for the most part entertaining. The film is told in flashback by a tourist guide sleigh driver to two riders in Quebec City.
American reporter Mary Roberts (Mary Anderson) for the Quebec City newspaper is sent by her editor Edward Durant to get a story on the once famous actress Renée Brancourt, who is a victim of a car accident and is dying in a hospital. Renée manages to tell Mary that her wealthy fiancé, whom she was to marry in a week, was murdered and his death was not an accident as reported. She dies before telling the reporter more, but sends a messenger with the keys to her apartment and asks the reporter to examine her diary. In the diary are notes about a shady lawyer named Albert Frédéric (Paul Lukas), whom the actress believed killed her fiancé and his client, and as executor of his estate stole the vic’s money. Renée was soon placed in an insane asylum (no reason is given why!) and her story was never told. By coincidence, prominent attorney Albert was the name given to Mary by her editor to help with the proposed feature story on the actress. This occurs at the time struggling composer Michel Lacoste (Helmut Dantine) after a spat walks out of his apartment unable to deal with his always nagging neurotic shrewish wife Blanche. Albert welcomes the now drunken composer to stay at his residence, and proposes a plan to support the talented artist on his way to the top. While Michel is sleeping things off, Albert goes to kill Blanche but finds her to be a suicide victim from an overdose of sleeping pills. He instead steals the suicide note to frame Michel for the death, and tells Michel that he will defend him in the murder of his wife if he helps him out with a favor. Michel is unsure that he murdered his wife, but reluctantly goes along with Albert’s scheme to kill the unrelenting lady reporter whom Albert has been trailing over the fear that she will discover his dark secret from the past. The plan is for Michel, using the name Paul Duval, to take Mary to a remote waterfalls and make her death look like an accident. But Michel can’t push her off the ledge into the falls and tells her everything, including his real identity. Mary believes him to be innocent and works with the police to set a trap for the sly lawyer, as her newspaper reports her death as accidentally falling into the Mont Morency Falls. The lawyer keeps his end of the bargain and gives up Blanche’s suicide note, which absolves Michel of her death. In a plot to get under the lawyer’s skin and drive him out in the open, Mary pops up everywhere he’s at and the police follow the lawyer as he goes to Mary’s pad to investigate if he’s seeing a ghost. When Albert sees Mary’s still alive, he tries to kill her but the police shoot him first.
REVIEWED ON 5/1/2005 GRADE: B-