For Reel

Shadow on the Wall (1950)
August 9, 2016, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Pat Jackson
2.5 Stars
Shadow on the WallThe beloved, good-humored star of the Maisie series was cast against type as a murderess in this film noir for MGM. And not only does Ann Sothern commit murder early in the film, but she spends the entirety of the rest of the film plotting the death of the key witness: a little girl (Gigi Perreau)! It’s a preposterous casting that doesn’t quite work despite Sothern’s considerable talents—although she fares well in conveying the desperation that might lead one to these sorts of actions, she’s simply too strong a screen presence to play someone so weak-willed and cowardly. Aside from Sothern’s casting, the film is of some interest due to the cinematography of Ray June, which is dynamic inasmuch as it concerns itself with both the naturalistic, flat lighting of a typical domestic noir and expressionistic plays of light when the moment calls for it (the film, after all, takes its name from the key image). The suspense doesn’t quite work due to the flat direction, miscasting, and the stilted performance from Perreau, but there is a bizarro fascination to be had in watching Sothern attempt to murder a child by poisoning her chocolate milk.

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