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Selasa, 24 Mei 2011

Jack Arnold - The Tattered Dress (1957)

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By BOSLEY CROWTHER
Published: March 15, 1957
New York Times

IF the Goddess of Justice is not blind, as generally pictured, then she certainly is myopic, to judge by "The Tattered Dress," which was exposed at the Mayfair yesterday. For this workmanlike and sometimes absorbing melodrama is weakened by this basic premise: that its young, famous but cynical criminal lawyer can sway juries by using either a vast knowledge of human failings and legal tricks of the trade or, when his own fate is at stake, simple fervent truths.

The evidence presented in both cases is nominal. Our hero's gift of tongues is not that persuasive.

However, Jack Arnold and his scenarist, George Zuckerman, have succeeded in keeping their principals moving at a brisk pace. Also, it should be added, they are thoughtfully delineated in the main.

The rugged and somewhat arrogant James Gordon Blane takes on the murder defense of rich, fast and loose and shapely Charleen Reston and her weakling husband for the money that is in it for him. Resentment is rife in the California desert town, but our barrister gets his social clients an acquittal by the simple ruse of having the seemingly genial sheriff (a close friend of the murdered man) unwittingly blacken the victim's character.

Our sheriff is a gent who knows a dirty trick or two himself, and first thing you know our legal eagle is charged with bribing a juror (the sheriff's paramour). As has been noted, the lawyer's desperate defense, stressing abiding truths, is hinged on the statement that "in every act of violence justice also is a victim."

As the beleaguered lawyer Jeff Chandler does a forthright and forceful stint. His climactic dialogue, however, has the hollow ring of theatrical declamation rather than the impact of convincing facts. Jack Carson does a slick job as the smiling but scheming arm of the law. Gail Russell has an effective scene or two as his partner in double-dealing.

As the blond social temptress Elaine Stewart is provocative enough in that "tattered dress" to distract an avowed misogynist. Jeanne Crain is decorative too as the estranged but loving wife of our hero.

They all see justice done fairly effectively if not convincingly.

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