Monday, October 26, 2009

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) was a film noir directed by Fritz Lang and starred Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, and Sydney Blackmer.

A newspaper publisher, Austin Spencer (Sydney Blackmer) wants to prove a point about the insufficiency of circumstantial evidence. Spencer is opposed to capital punishment and is upset with a case that the district attorney just won based on circumstantial evidence where the death penalty was imposed.

When a dancer is strangled and the police have no suspect, Austin Spencer convinces his future son-in-law, the prominent writer Tom Garrett (Dana Andrews), to plant circumstantial evidences to self-incriminate Garrett. Spencer will hold pictures, receipts and other evidence of Garrett's innocence until after the conviction. Later Spencer would begin a campaign in his newspaper disclosing the hoax and the possibility of sending an innocent to the electric chair based soley on circumstantial evidence and in the process humilate the District Attorney.

They decide to hide the truth from Austin's daughter Susan (Joan Fontaine) since she could not support the situation under stress and might reveal the hoax.

Tom agrees to the plan, not knowing that unforeseen events will put such a snag in the scheme that he ends up in danger of being executed.

The plot is full of unexpected twists and you are wondering up to the last minute if Garrett will be executed for a murder he did not commit.

This is a wonderful crime drama/ film noir and I highly recommend this film.

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