While on this week's visit to Arizona I had time to stream a Netflix movie on my Kindle Fire, and I chose THE FAKE, starring Dennis O'Keefe and Coleen Gray.
THE FAKE is a great example of why I enjoy checking out obscure films on Netflix and elsewhere. It's by no means a classic, but it had some unique aspects which made it most enjoyable, including the cast, setting, and musical score.
My attention was caught from the moment the opening credits began, as the film was scored with Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." The behind-the-credits action, with a train pulling in alongside a ship and the ship being unloaded, was so striking combined with the music that I immediately replayed the credits just to take it all in again before continuing on with the film.
The credits also provided the information that sequences in the movie were filmed at London's (original) Tate Gallery, now known as the Tate Britain. Having been to the Gallery, I enjoyed the movie all the more. Filming took place on the street in front of the Gallery, which hasn't changed in the last few decades, and there was quite a bit of interior filming as well.
Dennis O'Keefe stars as an American investigator on the trail of two stolen Da Vinci paintings which had been replaced by forgeries, delaying the discovery of the thefts. The investigation leads him to London's Tate Gallery, where Da Vinci's "Madonna and Child" is also at risk of being stolen.
Coleen Gray plays the American-born daughter of a down-on-his-luck British painter (John Laurie) skilled at producing duplicates of art by the Masters; she also works at the Tate, so she's caught right in the middle of the action as a possible suspect on O'Keefe's list. He's also quite attracted to her, which complicates matters.
Guy Middleton is particularly engaging as a British investigator who always seems to appear in the nick of time to help O'Keefe. The cast also includes Hugh Williams and Gerald Case.
O'Keefe seems to have followed in the footsteps of other actors known for U.S. films who worked in England in the early '50s, a list which also includes Robert Montgomery in EYE WITNESS (1950), Ray Milland in CIRCLE OF DANGER (1951), and Joel McCrea in SHOOT FIRST (1953).
THE FAKE was directed by Godfrey Grayson. Patrick Kirwan's screenplay was based on an original story by James Daplyn. It was filmed by Cedric Williams.
THE FAKE is simply a nice, cozy mystery -- "cozy" seems apt for a film set in London -- with an appealing cast in an interesting story and setting. I found it quite entertaining.
My only quibble was that the film seemed a bit truncated at a couple of spots, which is interesting given that the Netflix print is 70 minutes and IMDb lists the running time as 80 minutes. If the 80-minute version exists, I'd certainly like to see it.
As far as I've been able to discover, this film has not had a DVD or VHS release. Hopefully it will be more widely available at some point in the future, but in the meantime it can be seen by subscribers to Netflix streaming.