Another night, another evening at the 17th Annual Noir City Film Festival!
Things got off to an unexpected but pleasant start when Margo of the American Cinematheque very kindly gave my blog and Twitter account a shoutout in her talk before the film, acknowledging my coverage of the festival and the fact that I've been there every evening thus far. It was a nice surprise to be mentioned, and I appreciated it very much!
There was also an earthquake in L.A. while I was at the Egyptian, but happily I didn't feel it!
Tonight was a Barbara Stanwyck double bill consisting of WITNESS TO MURDER (1954) and JEOPARDY (1953).
The movie gets off to a brisk start during the opening credits sequence, when Stanwyck, as Cheryl Draper, is awakened on a windy night. Cheryl gets out of bed to shut her window and stands transfixed staring at the window across the street, where she can see Albert Richter (Sanders) choke a woman to death.
Cheryl calls the police but Detective Larry Mathews (Merrill) and his partner Eddie Vincent (Jesse White) can't find any sign of a dead body in Richter's apartment. Richter even manages to come up with a cover story for the blinds the murder victim tore in the struggle.
The police are baffled, going so far as to suggest to Cheryl that she had a vivid nightmare. But Cheryl knows what she saw, and she's afraid Richter will come after her next since he knows she knows the truth.
This was a very enjoyable film thanks to the three lead actors, a fast-moving story which clocks in at 83 minutes, and atmospheric Los Angeles locations shot in black and white by the great John Alton.
W. & J. Sloane in Beverly Hills, which I was unfamiliar with but was an actual store of the era.
Thanks to Alan Rode's comments, I also learned that Stanwyck's apartment building is still standing near Koreatown. When I got home I searched to see if Robby had written about the locations at Dear Old Hollywood, and indeed he had, right here.
WITNESS TO MURDER was directed by Roy Rowland. It was written by Chester Erskine and the uncredited Nunnally Johnson.
The film has some interesting faces, including Juanita Moore (IMITATION OF LIFE) and Adeline De Walt Reynolds as mental hospital patients. Helen Kleeb, best known as Miss Mamie Baldwin on THE WALTONS, plays the nurse in the mental ward. Claude Akins received a round of applause when he popped in briefly for a scene as a cop guarding a murder victim's apartment; he'd only appeared in a couple of films previously, with his debut having been in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953).
WITNESS TO MURDER is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.