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95 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind Games or reality?
At last one of the finest low budget films of British mystery drama has been released on DVD...First screened in 1957. it seems to have languished in the film vaults for the past fifty years apart from a couple of showings on daytime TV.
A superb plot and script provides an atmosphere combining unbelievable disbelief, fear and reality. Anne Baxter in the lead role...
Published on 8 Jan 2008 by David Turner

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thriller only comes alive in the last half hour
An heiress (Anne Baxter) vacationing at her villa in Spain has an unexpected visitor. A man (Richard Todd) claiming to be her brother except that her brother has been dead for a year and she ought to know as she identified the body! She appeals to a police captain (Herbert Lom), her uncle (Alexander Knox) but they all insist he is her brother. Why is Todd pretending to be...
Published on 9 Dec 2010 by The CinemaScope Cat


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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twisty tale handicapped by casting, 16 Oct 2008
This review is from: Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
An early film by the director of Logan's Run and Around the World in 60 Days, this one's main strength is its plot, which spins a fairly gripping early variation on the are-they aren't-they mad scenario which proved such a fruitful ground for British suspense films of the next decade. Those familiar with Taste of Fear (1961) Paranoiac (1963), etc will know how it goes: an isolated victim in peril from immediate family; lingering doubts of the identity of those closest to her; suggestions of beckoning insanity, overtones of incestuousness, obligatory last minute revelations, and so on.

At the heart of the film is heiress Kimberley Prescott (Anne Baxter), startled to be confronted by Williams (Richard Todd), purporting to be her late brother Ward, a man favoured with eerily accurate knowledge of their lives together. 'Ward' promptly installs himself in her Greek chateau along with his helper and butler, while Kimberley desperately tries to enlist the help of sympathetic local policemen Vargas (Herbert Lom). Soon it is clear that 'Ward' is interested in learning more about the diamonds missing from her late husbands business, and she grows more and more threatened..

At the the beginning of the film we see Williams and his associate Elaine (Faith Brook) running through the last few details of their unspecified deception. Arguably this could have been profitably omitted, as these opening moments remove any real doubts as to the nature of Ward's character. Without the prologue, far more emphasis would have been placed on Kimberley's suspect state of mind, the true nature of the ambiguous imposter's intentions would be far more intriguing, and the resulting psychological drama greatly heightened. As it is, the present film is closer to, say, To Catch a Thief (1955) than Suspicion (1941), with correspondingly less psychological complexity.

A talky film like this, with a small number of principals and some exotic location exteriors, stands or falls on the relative few elements of staging. Unfortunately, while blessed with an excellent script, Chase a Crooked Shadow is somewhat handicapped by the two leads. As the interloper 'Wade', the upright Todd is simply too stiff an actor to suggest the subtle menace the part requires, although his withdrawn manner does generate some suspense. The lack of any serious doubt about his intention to deceive never makes of his a particularly sympathetic character, although the extent of his intimate family knowledge is provoking (if never really explained). Straight backed, perfectly tailored, Todd's clipped delivery does induces some suspense as if by default, but the actor never unbends enough to add a necessary third dimension to his characterisation.

The other main problem is with Baxter. While sympathetic enough as the put-upon, shrinking heroine in the first part of the film, as events unfold and more elements of her character emerge, she finds it harder to convey the harder edge subsequent revelations demand. The end of the film, while offering an effective last minute twist, simply demands more than the actress can provide. Her final wilting, and lack of larcenous guile, has the effect of making the efforts of law enforcement appear cruel and heavy handed. Morally speaking, they appear to be taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In contrast Herbert Lom does his usual excellent job in a supporting role, fleshing out the unspoken concerns of Vargas as best he can.

Anderson's film makes little use of the gothic possibilities of the setting, setting a fair number of scenes in well lit rooms or during daylight. Only towards the end, as Kimberley's anxieties reach a peak, does the director seek to trap her more within the shadows and decorative grills of her environment : having the heroine back nervously into a niche for instance ,while her tormentors pass her by; or her firing a spear gun into the threatening darkness of the boathouse (a place at the heart of her secret in more than one sense).

The final twist is a celebrated one and is as little telegraphed as one might wish. Anderson's chief achievement here is running the whole narrative so smoothly, and on such a small scale, before springing the final surprise on the audience. If a lot of the result is fairly static, then this can be put down to the casting as well as the characteristics of the script. His next film was to be the far more dynamic Cagney vehicle, Shake Hands With the Devil (1959).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guess who the baddie is, 4 Jun 2010
This review is from: Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
What a good story,The black and white picture adds to the atmospher of the film.
See the film many years ago and rated it then.
Not many actors in this one but that don't matter.
A good film to watch in the afternoon with a nice cup of tea.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chase a crooked shadow dvd, 14 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. M. Sanders "TX41" (Powys, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
What a great film this is, and very glad I purchased it.

Starring the late Richard Todd as a man impersonating the dead brother of Anne Baxter, this film casts the Anne baxter charachter as a victim of an apparent family fortune said to have been spirited away by her brother.

However, the Brother comes back from the grave apparently to claim the fortune, or so it seems.

The SIster then approaches the local police chief played well by Herbert Lom for assistance, but with her 'brother' appearing to have passport and driving licence and an engraved gold cigarrete case of her brother's on him, surely he must be the real deal?

The sister is terrified and tries to convince the Police Inspector the 'Brother' is an impersonator and tries to prove it, meanwhile the Brother who seems to know everything about the real brother continues to turn the screw and pressure the sister in to giving him the jewels he says she has taken.

The film goes towards a climax which is unexpected and very clever screenwritng, I won't spoil it but what you think you know gets turned on its head and the end of the film is very clever!

Well worth watching, classic cinema!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long memory..., 19 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
I shall always remember seeing this film as a child in the late 1950s. A tight little thriller whose plot keeps you guessing until the very end of the film; the suspense and tension is built up nicely by good solid performances from Richard Todd, Anne Baxter, and the rest of the cast. Fine direction and good photography complete this well-crafted work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He can,t be my Brother, 18 May 2011
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D. J. Evans (Much Wenlock. Shropshire. UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
I found Chase a Crooked Shadow to be a cracking story which leads you to wrong conclusions . The tension of the main character superbly portrayed by Ann Baxter is totally convincing. Richard Todd always gives great performance,and in this film as her deceased brother returning from the grave, keeps you on the edge of your seat. Herbert Lom as the French Detective is called in to try and prove whether the character of Richard Todd is genuine or not.I bought this DVD a Year ago and passed it on to a friend, but my wife and I missed it so much,we bought another DVD to replace it. How does this fascinating film end ?, buy it and find out. I fully recommend it,so does my friend who still has my original Copy.

Desmond John E
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing little thriller, 20 Nov 2011
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Mr. A. Campbell-walter (Hoath, Kent UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
An unusual plot well acted full of twists and turns not all of them believable! For car buffs there are some good shots of a pre war Lagonda racing along the Spanish coast. Perfectly acceptable viewing for a winter evening.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Anne Baxter chews the scenery...and what about all those diamonds that went missing or the B&B poured into such a giant snifter?, 6 Mar 2009
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
Why are we so sure that diamond heiress Kimberly Prescott, who lives alone in a cliffside villa on the Costa Brava, is as neurotic as Sylvester the Cat being stalked by Tweety Bird? Because she's played by Anne Baxter. By 1958, Baxter's career had moved down to that crowded niche of aging female stars who played gracious but melodramatic divas. Baxter always had a penchant for "acting." When she didn't have a strong director, she'd almost always pull out the stops. With Chase a Crooked Shadow, these include breathless fear, tremulous helplessness, puzzled innocence, dramatic pauses while looking out into the distance, and all those short, rushing steps to the nearest balcony or sofa to reach something to lean against. As Kim, she's not a woman we really want to get involved with. As luck would have it, Kim has to deal with Ward Prescott, a man who shows up in the dead of night in her villa's garden and says, while lighting a cigarette, that he's her brother. Kim is positive that can't be because she identified her brother's body after a car crash. Kim becomes marginally sympathetic because Ward is played by top-billed Richard Todd as a man so insufferably confident and resourceful that it's hard not to dislike him.

A couple of years earlier Kim's father, the owner of a large but failing South African diamond consortium, killed himself. Just hours before, her brother had died in that car crash. Kim has been close to falling apart since then. Sure, she has her uncle (played by Alexander Knox) who lives nearby in his own villa, but Kim is fearful, lonely and very unhappy. We know all this because the movie opens in a dark Barcelona hotel room while the man who says he's Ward and the woman with him watch a film of the villa which must have been taken surreptitiously. They tell us a bit about Kim...and we immediately assume they are crooks.

The plot is an old one. Baxter chews the scenery. Todd is insufferable. Still, the movie kept me guessing. Up until the last ten minutes or so, Chase a Crooked Shadow could be about a ruthless con game, or a deranged murderer of either sex, or a story where either Kim or Ward could be good guys or bad guys. The truth, when it comes out, is so overacted by Baxter that, in my view, the story falls as flat as a rejected marriage proposal. If you don't mind Baxter's divaness or Todd's air of superiority, the shifting possibilities of the plot might be enough to keep you interested. I wouldn't watch the movie again, but I don't regret spending a little time with it.

One of the bright spots is Faith Brook, daughter of Clive Book, who plays Ward's associate. Brook was a tall, good-looking woman who spent most of her acting career on stage. None of the movies she made were worth much but they helped pay the bills. She was a fine actress. She shows Baxter how to do it. And if you've never heard of her father, one of the great leading men of the Twenties and Thirties, try his last two movies. The first, On Approval in 1944, is one of the best high society farces ever made. He wrote, directed, produced and starred. His last movie was The List of Adrian Messenger in 1963. He's the aged, wealthy and irascible Marquis of Gleneyre. He shares several scenes with the star, George C. Scott. At 76, he steals every one of them.

Chase a Crooked Shadow has a good video and audio transfer and no extras. You might enjoy it.
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Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958]
Chase A Crooked Shadow [DVD] [1958] by Michael Anderson (DVD - 2007)
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