Format: Noir Alley TCM
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Apparently Cast a Dark Shadow (1955) received poor notices and didn't set the box office on fire upon its release, and I can see how in the mid-50's this thriller would disappear into the background of so much in the way of crime films, mystery, murder and mayhem.
But I dug it.
Starring Dirk Bogarde and Margaret Lockwood, it feels like it never shakes off its roots as a stageplay, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The limited number of sets and lack of spectacle keeps the focus on just story and character - which all of the players manage well with their performances and under Gilbert's direction.
Bogarde plays a young man of the working classes who has found himself married to a much older woman whom he decides to bump off for the money. It's a bit of an elaborate scheme, both what he plans to do to accomplish the lady's demise and what needs to happen after. But, that accomplished, he sets out to find another older lady to help him get some cash.
Here, he meets Lockwood, and she's worldly and wise in a way no other woman has been. But she's also not that much older (and looks like Margaret Lockwood), and has her own mind about things.
Bogarde settles in a bit until yet another older woman shows up and seems like easy enough pickings.
Bogarde and Lockwood are individually fantastic in the film, and together it's a fascinating bit of chemistry. Lockwood's working class girl who married well enough is a great role, and my guess is it's so different (and she's shockingly old at 39 here) from what was happening on screen elsewhere, audiences may have been thrown off. But she's terrific. Bogarde gets to go full raving nutter by film's end, and you get to see his range over the course of the film from glances and moments of pause to talking to empty chairs and banging on them with canes. It's something else.
It's not a movie that will change your life, but it's a terrific, taught thriller. Check it out.