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Saturday, August 5, 2017

THE ACCUSED (1949)

Perhaps Loretta Young thought she was playing a female Raskolnikov in a variant on CRIME & PUNISHMENT. How else to explain the pop-eyed aspect of guilt from her psych-101 college professor after covering up the murder of molesting student Douglas Dick? He’s quite the disturbing presence in class: supercilious, brilliant, self-entitled; was she asking for trouble on that ride home? It’s an idea not much pursued in what soon devolves in a neatly run, if odd, police procedural with Robert Cummings pivoting from student guardian to lovestruck lawyer (what a summation speech he’ll give!) and Wendell Corey’s homicide dick missing the obvious as second suitor. William Dieterle & Milton Krasner meg & lens with zesty facility (the Universal Vault DVD looks just great) while plenty of tasty supporting characters turn in standout perfs, especially Sam Jaffe as a taunting, slightly sadistic crime lab techie. If only Young didn’t play these characters (see THE STRANGER/’46 and CAUSE FOR ALARM/’51 for further examples) as if she were still adjusting to new power brakes in a car. Unaware that a little pressure goes a long, long way.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Spot that cool movie billboard advertising Macdonald Carey & Gail Russell in MURDER early in the pic, a make-believe film anyone would want to see.

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