Monday, May 28, 2018

Chase a Crooked Shadow--An Absence of Brotherly Love

Anne Baxter as heiress Kim Prescott.
After a late night engagement, diamond heiress Kimberly Prescott (Anne Baxter) returns to her Spanish villa to be greeted by her brother Ward. Kimberly is see, Ward died in a car accident and Kim identified his corpse. Despite her adamant protests, the alleged brother (Richard Todd) won't leave.

When Kim calls the local police inspector (Herbert Lom), Ward calmly provides a passport to prove his identity. Even more compelling, though, is that the photo of Ward in Kim's bedroom is the spitting image of the man claiming to be her sibling.

The next day, Kim awakes to find that Ward is still there. He has been joined by a female friend and a butler, having sent Kim's maid on vacation. What does this impostor want? Could he really be Kim's brother? Is she losing her mind?

Richard her brother?
Released in 1958, Chase a Crooked Shadow reminded me very much of the British suspense pictures written by Jimmy Sangster for Hammer Films. Structurally, these films (best represented by 1961's Taste of Fear) build tension slowly before climaxing in an effective twist. In the case of Chase a Crooked Shadow, it's a nice twist but the film tips its hand a little with its opening scene. Producer Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. appears just before the final credits to ask viewers not to reveal the film's ending to those who haven't seen it yet.

Anne Baxter, looking smashing in costumes designed by Anthony Mendleson, creates a believable, increasingly perplexed protagonist. As the source of her problems, Richard Todd once again proves his adeptness at playing both heroes and villains (though I'll refrain from saying which one he is in this film!). Todd is one of those actors I didn't fully appreciate until later in my "movie-watching career." (Interestingly, David Niven was once announced as one of the leads, presumably playing Todd's role.)

Capitalizing on its Spanish seaside setting, Chase a Crooked Shadow is an engrossing, well-acted suspense drama that doesn't bear close scrutiny. I rather enjoyed it.


  1. I like the way this movie told its story. I was kept off balance and enjoyed every moment.

    1. It;s one of those movies that would be interesting to watch again to see if the twist plays fairly all the way though.

  2. I love a good twist that you don't see coming. Plus, Anne Baxter is always a treat. Thanks for recommending!