|She deserved better roles!|
In Along Came a Spider, Pleshette portrays Anne Banning, the widow of a research physicist who poses as a student at a Berkeley university. She makes a strong impression on a physics professor (Ed Nelson), who finds her combination of beauty and brains irresistible. As their romance develops, the reason for Anne's deception gradually becomes clear--and that doesn't bode well for her new boyfriend.
In the hands of a filmmaker like Alfred Hitchcock, Along Came a Spider could have become a chilling examination of the depths that a person will go to for revenge. Pleshette hints at the complexities of her character, but I think Hitch would have allowed her to delve more deeply into Anne's inner turmoil and the cause and effects of her actions.
But this is a Movie of the Week and not Vertigo, so what we get is a clever suspense film that aims solely to entertain. It succeeds quite well on that level. Indeed, the film's only significant flaw is its length. When a big twist is resolved with 20 minutes remaining, it's indicative that there's still another revelation to follow.
Like Honeymoon With a Stranger, Along Came a Spider was based on a stage play. Leonard Lee wrote Sweet Poison in 1948. Lee was a prolific writer and also penned screenplays, such as the 1953 film noir The Glass Web starring Edward G. Robinson and John Forsythe. Pretty Poison was adapted previously for British television in 1959 on the ITV Play of the Week. That's not a movie of the week...but it's close.