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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The File On Thelma Jordon (1950)

An unhappily married assistant District Attorney (Wendell Corey) begins an illicit affair with a woman (Barbara Stanwyck). When the woman's elderly aunt (Gertrude W. Hoffman) is killed during a home robbery, she is arrested for murder. But guess who the prosecuting attorney in her murder trial is? Yep ... her married lover! The director Robert Siodmak is responsible for several stylish film noir classics like THE KILLERS (1946) and CRISS CROSS (1949) so this is a guy who knows what he's doing. That being said, THELMA JORDAN isn't on a par with those films. It starts off rather sluggishly and right away there's a problem by the name of Wendell Corey. Often a fine supporting actor in character roles, he's a flop as a leading man. Even if he didn't bungle his drunk scene (the undoing of many an actor) at the beginning of the movie, his character is such a dumb cluck that you can't get invested in his character. The picture picks up around the time of the murder and through the trial before it goes all flabby at the very end. Stanwyck is marvelous at playing these types of hardened femme fatales and she's wonderful as usual even if the film has her go all soft at the very end. So nix on the dull first half hour and lame ending but what's in between is quit enthralling. With Joan Tetzel as Corey's needy whiny wife, Paul Kelly, Barry Kelley, Kasey Rogers and Stanley Ridges.

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