Friday, March 7, 2014

Man Bait (1952)

Original title: The Last Page

Director: Terence Fisher

Writers: Frederick Knott, James Hadley

Composer: Frank Spencer

Starring: George Brent, Marguerite Chapman, Raymond Huntley, Peter Reynolds, Eleanor Summerfield, Meredith Edwards, Harry Fowler, Diana Dors

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Blonde Blackmail!

Plot: The married owner of a bookstore is attracted to his sexy blonde clerk. He finally gives in to temptation and makes a pass at her, but that only results in him getting enmeshed in blackmail and murder.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No


OK, so it's British.  That means the acting is going to be good.  No one's winning awards for it but it's good.  The picture looks good and the pacing is great.  Yeah, it's only an hour and eighteen minutes so it's relatively short.  It works.  My big problem is with bits of the story.  For the most part it's pretty great.  Ruby (Dors) is a bad news kind of broad but she's pushed even further into the dark world of deceit and blackmail by someone even worse, Jeff (Reynolds).  He's a slick criminal who knows how to manipulate.  When he sets things into motion that lead to her boss', John (Brent), wife's suicide, shit gets real and fast.  Problem number one.  John gets deeper and deeper with Ruby (the don't fool around, she's just threatening to cry wolf if he doesn't giver her money) and at no point does he go to the police, ESPECIALLY when a crate shows up at his house with Ruby's dead body in it!!!  Instead he runs and he's A-No. 1 on the copper's list of suspects now.  That's problem number two.  Now he plays detective and tries to figure out who killed her so he can clear his name.

Here's problem number three. The fuzz knows of the 350 pounds John received from his insurance maturing (or something like that).  John had given that money to Ruby to shut her up.  After Jeff kills Ruby for the money, some of it ends up in the hands of one of his gal friends.  She then goes to a small shop to buy some smokes and pays for them with one of the bills.  The clerk checks the serial numbers of the bill against a notice he received from the cops to be on the lookout.  The bill matches up and she gets detained.  REALLY?  Was this a common practice in 1950s London?  That's some super efficient police work, not to mention HOW THE HELL WOULD THEY KNOW THE SERIAL NUMBERS TO BEGIN WITH?!?  It's bullshit, piss poor writing like that that pulls me out of a picture.  It's a PROMETHEUS (2012) moment and there are a few of them in this film.  The ending has Jeff about to kill a good friend of John's but he and the cops get there in time to save her from being burnt to a crisp. Damn.  You know the ending is going to end on a happy note but this picture could have benefited from seeing her die but still having Jeff caught and arrested.  It's not a bad film despite these nitpicks so don't pass it up on my account, just know what you're in fer.


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