Friday, September 23, 2011

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956). The film, considered film noir, was the last American film directed by Lang.

Newspaper publisher Austin Spencer, who is against capital punishment, invites, novelist Tom Garrett, to witness an execution. Later, Austin explains to Tom, that he believes that Thompson, is using circumstantial evidence to win death sentences, because he wants to be the next governor.

Tom proposes to Austin's daughter Susan, and she wants to announce the wedding date, but Tom editor wants him finish his novel first. Austin, wants to find an unsolved crime, plant evidence that will point at a innocent man, then reveal at last minute that the evidence was planted.

Soon after, Austin reads in the newspaper that an exotic dancer, Patty Gray, has been strangled. Austin learns from a police detective, that Patty's friends, Sally Moore and Terry LaRue, saw her drive away with a man.

Tom meets Sally, after spilling a drink on her on purpose and later visits her at the club to offer to pay for cleaning her dress. Sally, is so thrilled to have a wealthy boyfriend that she does not notice when Tom takes her body makeup. Susan sees a picture of Tom and Sally, in the newspaper and questions him about the picture, then breaks off their engagement.

Tom and Austin, go to the scene of the crime, where Austin takes a picture of Tom leaving his cigarette case as a false clue. That night at the club, Terry worries that Tom may be Patty's killer, she decides to call police lieutenant Kennedy, to inform him about her upcoming date with Tom.

Austin, takes pictures of all his activities as proof of his innocence, Tom cleans his car of all fingerprints, applies body makeup to the car seats and leaves a stocking in his glove compartment. When Tom picks up Sally for their date, the police arrest him. The police interrogate Tom, who answers their questions truthfully. When he is indicted for murder, Susan wants Austin to intervene, and wonders why her father does not seem concerned.

Thompson is ready to try the case in court, but his assistant, Bob Hale, is in love with Susan and wants to help her prove Tom's innocence. At the trial, Thompson tells the court that Tom, proposed to Susan just five days before Patty's murder, and killed the dancer to hide his affair with her.

As "evidence," he talks about a large cash withdrawal Tom made from his bank on the same day that Patty went to work with a lot of cash, as well as pipe ashes found in Tom's garbage, even though Tom does not smoke.

As the jury deliberates, Austin heads over to Thompson's to reveal their plot, but.. along the way is hit by a car and all the evidence is burned. After Austin's death, Tom tells the true story to his lawyer, Jonathan Wilson, who tells the judge, but the judge cannot stop the trial. Susan and Jonathan, search Austin's safe for the pictures, but find none. When the police go through the burned photographs, Susan is convinced of Tom's innocence, and tries to convince the newspaper editors to sway public opinion in Tom's favor.

No pardon is granted and the night before Tom's execution, Susan begs Bob to investigate further. He learns that Patty, stole money from her boyfriend who then threatened to kill her. Unfortunately, the boyfriend died years earlier. A lawyer arrives at Thompson's office, with a just-discovered note that Austin left in his safe-deposit vault, which clears him of all guilt. But.. is he really Innocent?

I thought this was a very interesting film... it really gets you thinking about how someone really could be blamed and executed for something they didn't do.I thought the final twist came as a complete surprise.

Please click here to read Patti's review on the film Beyond Reasonable Doubt.

Barbara Nichols (December 10, 1928 – October 5, 1976), began modeling for pinup magazines in the early-1950s. In the mid-1950s, she moved to Hollywood and began performing as second leads in films: Miracle in the Rain (1956), The King and Four Queens (1956), The Naked and the Dead (1958), The Pajama Game (1957), Pal Joey (1957), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), That Kind of Woman (1958), Where the Boys Are (1960).

Nichols was considered a minor rival to Marilyn Monroe, along with Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, Cleo Moore, Greta Thyssen, Diana Dors and Sheree North. One of her few starring roles was in the 1965 science fiction film, The Human Duplicators.

Nichols was also a frequent guest star on many television series including: It's a Great Life, The Jack Benny Television Show, The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, Batman, and The Beverly Hillbillies. Her last film was Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood in 1976.


  1. Dawn, Fritz Lang is one of my favorite directors

  2. I watched this film and reviewed it about 2 weeks ago. You and I both talked about the interesting twist...which I never saw coming. I was totally shocked! While I do enjoy predictable movies, shocking twists can be alot of fun too.

  3. Paul2, I can see why Fritz Lang, is one of your favs. he always directed some great films.

    Awesome! Patti, I will add it to the bottom of my review.

  4. Dawn , you should check out both Man Hunt and Fury with Spencer Tracy, both are among my favorite Lang films

  5. Paul2, Thank you for the recommendations. I will check them out.

  6. Fritz Lang is one of my alltime favourite directors too.. ;")


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