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She's No Jessica Fletcher!

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She's No Jessica Fletcher!

Postby klondike » June 27th, 2009, 8:25 am

Hey, Gang!
Caught a really unique noir last night; it was called Another Man's Poison (1952), and that title must have tickled headliner Bette Davis no end, given the pariah treatment the press gave her & KH back when the studios were trying to spank them back into line.
Be advised, however, there's nothing figurative or associative or even mildly libelous in this title's designation. Bet's on a clever little murrrrder spree here (can't ya just hear her saying it like that? :wink: ), and trust me, this one plays out less like "cat & mouse" than rabid-rat & starving-predator.
I won't go into a lot of detail (it's not a very long thriller, and though the puzzle-pieces are scattered, their assembly isn't overly deep, or leisurely, or terribly complicated); suffice to say BD's character is a popular-though-reclusive mystery writer, grand-damming it up in an overblown Tudor manorhouse/estate that tops a windswept hamlet in the high Yorkshire moors.
But whereas Angela Lansbury's TV personna would've eagerly used such professional insight to investigate & solve local crimes, Bette's character Jane Frobisher is obsessed with commit & conceal.
But dammit, people just keep getting in her way!
The missing husband, the secret, boy-toy lover, the tattling housekeeper, the rain-drenched fugitive, the intuitive secretary, the snoopy veterinarian, an ill-disposed body or two . . . and that other "boyfriend", who lives in the barn, and says nothing, but sees all, and whose vengeance will reach beyond death itself.
Borrowing liberally from Leave Her to Heaven, Keeper of the Flame & Undercurrent, this B&W throwback's real triumph is in its pacing & edit-work which serve to keep the mounting tension piano-wire taut. Raging conceit, gluttonous larceny, slithering adultery, cold-blooded homicide, and scathing verbal attacks abound as guns are wrestled for, windows peeped through, drinks micky-finned, horses cantered, brakes give way and everything is chilled & scoured by the incessant Yorkshire rain.
Bronte it ain't . . but Hammet it could be, if Dash enjoyed tea, bad rye & amphetamines.

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phil noir
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Re: She's No Jessica Fletcher!

Postby phil noir » June 27th, 2009, 11:23 am

I haven't seen this film, but I remember reading an anecdote about it in a book years ago. Bette Davis had not been easy to work with, and one night she and various members of the cast and crew were watching the rushes. Davis began to criticize the director of photography for lighting her unflatteringly. 'Who is this man anyway?' she is supposed to have barked. "I've never heard of him. What's he famous for?'

Behind her in the darkness, a voice said, 'Photographing old ruins' - a reference to Robert Krasker's work on The Third Man.

'Who said that?' demanded Davis, flying into a rage; but strangely no-one was prepared to own up.

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