Thursday, May 8, 2014

STOP! Don't Trip Over that Ending :: A Beer-Gut Reaction to Michael Anderson's The Naked Edge (1961)

Six years after her husband's crucial testimony sent a co-worker to prison for murdering their boss, the wife (Kerr) stumbles upon a conspiracy to blackmail the star witness. Seems the blackmailer claims it was the husband (Cooper) who actually committed the murder, who then framed an innocent man for it.

Now, there's a lot of tangential and circumstantial evidence to back up this claim, too, which puts, quite obviously, some major strains on their marriage. And the deeper she digs, the more guilty her ever-evasive spouse looks, putting herself in mortal danger in the process. And all of this leads to a pretzel'd climax that will leave you guessing over who is really guilty till the bitter end.

From the scriptwriter (Joseph Stefano) to it's plot (which mirrors Suspicion quite fiercely), The Naked Edge owes a lot to Alfred Hitchcock. This would be Cooper's last film, who was apparently so sick he required frequent breaks for an oxygen assist between takes -- you can definitely see the toll it was taking on him.

Sadly, Cooper passed away before the film was released and it subsequently crashed and burned at the box-office, which I find odd because it wasn't all that bad. Sure, Kerr kinda overplays the overwrought, passive/aggressive wife; and the plot is a little too lather, rinse, repeat as it unfolds -- with each piece of new evidence uncovered leading to a confrontation between our couple, resulting in the same accusations and the same fishy denials followed by a temporary truce until the next piece of evidence is found.

Still, double-extra bonus points from me for a cameo by Peter Cushing as the prosecuting attorney. And I won't spoil who really done it, because despite these harrowing hiccups the last thirteen minutes definitely flash-fires this thing into the win column for me. 

The Naked Edge (1961) Pennebaker-Baroda Productions :: United Artists / EP: Marlon Brando Sr. / P: George Glass, Walter Seltzer / D: Michael Anderson / W: Joseph Stefano, Max Ehrlich (novel) / C: Erwin Hillier / E: Gordon Pilkington / M: William Alwyn / S: Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Eric Portman, Hermione Gingold, Peter Cushing

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