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(Review originally written at 16 October 2007)

This is one fine made movie. It has a greatly written script and a top-notch cast.

It sounds like a cliché of course but it's a real shame that movies like these aren't being made and written anymore. At least not on such a commercially large scale and with such fine big name actors in it. Movies like this aren't made anymore simply because movies like this don't really sell, unless they are being made exceptionally good.

It's not really a film-noir, although the movie certainly shows similarities to the atmosphere and the story also shows noir tendencies. The movie in the end is perhaps a bit too 'light' to consider it a real film-noir, also because it features quite an amount of subtle black comedy.

The story is solidly constructed and focuses on three different characters and plot-lines that of course are all still connected to each other. The fine script was written by Hollywood legend John Huston. It features lots of deeper themes such as greed and jealousy. You really start to care about the characters and their problems. Something that isn't too common for a '40's genre movie. It's not always an easy movie to watch and follow so make sure you watch this movie with a clear head. The dialog might be a bit overlong by todays standards but its so fine written and delivered by the actors that you tend to look past this.

The movie gets really carried by the three main characters, that equally share the screen time. I was especially impressed by Sydney Greenstreet, which also might due to the fact that he had the best- or at least most credible plot line. Peter Lorre also played a great role and gave a fine performance. Geraldine Fitzgerald was definitely the least of the three actors and she tended to overact a bit in some of the dramatic sequences. But overall her role was also really a solid one and it says something about the quality of the acting from Lorre and Greenstreet to say that Fitzgerald gave the lesser performance of the movie. Alan Napier also plays a small role. Oh man, it really seems to be that this guy is in about every 'old' movie that I watch lately. Napier received his most fame for playing the butler Alfred in the Adam West "Batman" series from the '60's.

The editing of the movie was also surprisingly good and fast. Instead of long single camera sequences, the movie cuts back and forth between different camera positions in the same sequence rapidly. It gives the story speed and helps to keep you interest even during the more slow and dull moments of the movie. The fine little musical score was from acclaimed composer Adolph Deutsch, whose music suited this movie and its atmosphere really well.

It's a fine good old fashioned quality movie, made with limited resources but with fine experts involved.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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