DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!
Joseph Cotten and Jean Peters had a great hit in 1953 with Niagara, but no one recalls their follow up movie. It was called A Blueprint for Murder—but done without costar Marilyn Monroe.
Whenever you find another lost film noir from the 1950s, you may have either a treasure or something unworthy of rediscovery. The pleasure is in finding the movie the Late Show never played endlessly in the days when movies were fodder and filler on television.
You will always find a prize in the Crackerjack box. This one may surprise you. By the time of this movie American society began to realize that the most innocent of creatures could be a psychopath. Hence, this movie played on the novelty. In this case Hitchcock’s Uncle Charley from Shadow of a Doubt renews his vow, thanks to Cotten’s performance.
This 1953 effort is written and directed by Andrew Stone with “you are there” in upper middle class America style. It catalogues a lifestyle of indolent post-war innocence in American suburbs.
The film features Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, and Gary Merrill. Jean Peters always played good girls with a gold heart. She was also Mrs. Howard Hughes, and her movie career was now in decline. She probably decided to shake things up by playing a sociopathic serial killer. She made only three or four additional movies before retiring from the big screen. She could have stopped here and knocked’em dead with strychnine.
Yet, this movie mind-twister may actually have another suspect duping the audience along the way. Short and sweet, this little film might have been a television special in the Golden Age. It is amusing and clever with its red herrings. Too bad few people ever saw it in its original release.
There is some satisfaction in being one of a handful that has seen the delightful murder mystery.
Now available because of the voracious appetite for more and more entertainment by DVD watchers, this movie becomes a gemstone for those looking for Hitchcock Zirconia.
What the film proves is that steady and professional actors like Gary Merrill and Joe Cotten deserved far more accolades than they ever received in their lifetimes.
A trifle, the movie is indeed a blueprint for delight for film aficionados. ‘Who done it’ achieves a minor classic status with this one.
Be sure to read William Russo’s movie books: MOVIE MASHUP, GREAT SPORTS STORIES: THE LEGENDARY FILMS, ALFRED HITCHCOCK FRESHLY SHOWERED, and MOVIES TO SEE!