The Verdict (1946)

The Verdictverdict poster
Directed by Don Siegel
Written by Peter Milne from a novel by Israel Zangwill
1946/USA
Warner Bros.
First viewing/Warner Archive DVD

 

Supt. George Edward Grodman: I feel as if I were drinking at my own wake.

This Sidney Greensreet/Peter Lorre locked room mystery didn’t grab me.

The story opens in 19th Century London with Superintendent George Grodman (Greenstreet) of Scotland Yard witnessing the execution of a man he helped to convict. Almost immediately his bitter rival Supt. Buckley (George Colouris) brings him the missing alibi witness that establishes the man’s innocence.  Grodman is forced to retire and Buckley takes his job.

At Grodman’s house, we meet his friends:  an artist with a taste for the macabre, mine-owning lout Arthur Kendall whose aunt was the murder victim, and a reformist Parliamentarian who is Kendall’s sworn enemy.  Naturally, these three all live in the same boarding house.  After the party breaks up, we see Kendall arguing with music-hall singer Lottie Rawson (Joan Lorring) about some fake jewelry he gave her.

The next day, the landlady finds Kendall’s door locked and cannot rouse him.  Suspecting foul play, she calls Grodman and the two discover Kendall’s murdered body.  All hypotheses on how the killer could have entered and exited the locked room prove impossible.  The rest of the story follows the inept Buckley as he investigates the murder with occasional help from Grodman.

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I think it’s a stretch to call this murder mystery a film noir.  It’s competently made but didn’t make me care about the outcome.  It does give viewers the opportunity to see director Don Siegel’s (Dirty Harry)  first feature film.

Clip – Joan Lorring sings “Give Me a Little Bit”

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