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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Man With A Cloak (1951)

In the New York of 1848, a young girl (Leslie Caron) arrives from Paris in search of the uncle (Louis Calhern) of her fiance. She hopes the uncle will give her money which is needed by his nephew to support the revolution. What she finds is a debauched reprobate under the thumb of his mistress (Barbara Stanwyck) and two servants (Joe De Santis, Margaret Wycherly) who are waiting for him to die so they can inherit his fortune. But Caron finds an unlikely ally in her quest in a mysterious alcoholic poet (Joseph Cotten). Based on a short story The Gentleman From Paris by mystery writer John Dickson Carr, the film is excessively talky for a Victorian thriller. The identity of Cotten's character is kept under wraps until the very end for a "twist" but even the most backward of children should be able to guess who he is. Cotten lacks the sodden depravity the role requires and the normally restrained Calhern overacts shamelessly here. Directed Fletcher Markle (THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY) with a good score by the reliable David Raksin. With Jim Backus and Roy Roberts.

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