The Girl on the Bridge (1951)

The Girl on the Bridgegirl on the bridge poster
Directed by Hugo Haas
Written by Hugo Haas and Arnold Phillips
1951/USA
Hugo Haas Productions
First viewing/Amazon Watch Instant

 

Tagline: She’s Man-Bait and Murder ! (most misleading tagline ever)

This modest B picture has a kind of appealing sweetness despite its flaws.

Kindly old jeweler David (Haas) spots beautiful Clara (Beverly Michaels) standing on a bridge and staring despondently at the water.  He tells her things will look better in the morning.  Clara drops by his shop the next day to tell him he was right.  She has her nine-month-old daughter Judy in tow.  One of the reasons Clara was feeling low is because she is an unwed mother who has just lost her babysitter.  David has a lot of experience with children and offers to mind the child in the shop while Clara is at work.  He is drawn to the little family because he lost his own during the Holocaust.

girl on the bridge 1

Clara’s boss offers her a job working from home if she will move to San Diego with him.  David proposes a sexless marriage to him as an alternative.  Clara agrees and develops a sincere affection for him.  For awhile they are all happy and Clara announces she is expecting David’s baby.

Since this is noir, good times cannot last long.  Judy’s father Mario, a pianist, returns.  His no-good cousin spots Judy at the shop and Mario is soon having a chat with David.  He refuses to take the money David offers him to clear out.  But the cousin has blackmail on the mind.  David kills him during an argument but Mario is tried for the murder.  The guilt slowly drives David insane.

girl on the bridge 2

Clara shows David her dance routine – the only even slightly risque scene in the film

Other than Haas’s performance, the acting in this movie is nothing to write home about and even Haas goes over the top by the end.  But I thought the story was touching in a peculiar way.

I had never heard of Haas until I came across this film in my research for Noir Month. Before World War II, he was a famous comedian/director in his native Czechoslovakia. He fled to the United States when the Nazis invaded and got work in Hollywood, mostly as villains.  He then became an independent producer churning out low-budget second features, mostly featuring himself as older men attracted to young women a la The Blue Angel.  He was quickly dubbed “the foreign Ed Wood”.  Based on The Girl on the Bridge alone, I can say that characterization was unfair.  No one would ever confuse this with an Ed Wood movie.

Clip – the murder – Cinematography by Paul Ivano

 

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