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High Wall is an American crime film first released in 1947, directed by Curtis Bernhardt. The film is based on a story by Alan R. Clark and Bradbury Foote and stars Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter and Herbert Marshall.Our overall rating for this film is: good. December 26, 1947 At the Capitol B.C. It simply wouldn't have been Christmas on the local movie scene without at least one good psychoneurotic spreading comfort and joy. It wouldn't have been a real Yuletide without one old-fashioned mental block and one swig of hot narco-synthesis to warm the cockles of our morbid hearts. And so we should all be grateful to the Capitol for bringing in Metro's appropriate "High Wall," which is set in an asylum for the insane. All of these cheerful ingredients are in this happy little film, plus a couple of juicy murders and any number of cackling lunatics. Also—and this should please the youngsters—who would the chief maniac be but our old friend Robert Taylor, who can look fiercer than any nut we know. Falsely accused of murdering his wife while in a vacancy of mind, he is tossed into a state institution, which drives him into dark and furious fits. But then Dr. Audrey Totter, a cool and efficient chick, slugs him with narco-synthesis and discovers that he mayn't have done the deed. It takes lots of violent twists, however, before doc and patient join up in a mad break away from the asylum and beard Herbert Marshall in his den, where, under a similar drug injection, he confesses that he killed the wife. As straight movie melodrama, employing modern psychotherapy, "High Wall" is a likely lot of terrors, morbid and socially cynical. Just the thing for your holiday entertainment—unless, of course, you are sane. On the Capitol's stage are Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra. HIGH WALL, screen play by Sidney Boehm and Lester Cole; suggested by a story and play by Alan R. Clark and Bradbury Foote; directed by Curtis Bernhardt; produced by Robert Lord for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. Steven Kenet . . . . . Robert Taylor Dr. Ann Lorrison . . . . . Audrey Totter Willard I. Whitcombe . . . . . Herbert Marshall Helen Kenet . . . . . Dorothy Patrick Mr. Slocum . . . . . H. B. Warner Dr. George Poward . . . . . Warner Anderson Dr. Philip Dunlap . . . . . Moroni Olsen David Wallace . . . . . John Ridgeley Dr. Stanley Griffin . . . . . Morris Ankrum Mrs. Kenet . . . . . Elisabeth Risdon Henry Cronner . . . . . Vince Barnett The High Wall is a good film noir that benefits from an excellent performance from matinee idol Robert Taylor. Taylor had at this time in his career already begun attempting more challenging roles, and Wall stands as one of his finest achievements. It's the kind of film that demands a strong, central performance, one that can careen from one motion to another yet must be grounded in a solid, sturdy performer that can carry the picture. Taylor fits the bill very nicely, teetering on the brink when required but always pulling back from the edge to keep Wall focused. He's aided by Audrey Totter, a noir staple who here gets the rare chance to play a good woman rather than a femme fatale and proves more than up to the task. Even better is the wonderful Herbert Marshall, who gives the screen a truly memorable villain, chillingly efficient in his machinations. The screenplay has some problems, including too many coincidences and a reliance on truth serum that feels like a cheating way of resolving situations; but these limitations aside, it works fine. Curtis Bernhardt directs with a sure hand and aims for maximum atmosphere and tension, aided by Paul Vogel's magnificently dark, dark, DARK cinematography, creating a vista of shadows and rain swept streets that is enormously effective.
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