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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film)

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Genre  Crime, Film-Noir, Drama
Music director  Herschel Burke Gilbert
Language  English
7/10 IMDb

Director  Fritz Lang
Screenplay  Douglas Morrow
Country  United States
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) movie poster

Writer  Douglas Morrow (story)
Release date  September 13, 1956 (1956-09-13) (US)
Cast  Dana Andrews (Tom Garrett), Joan Fontaine (Susan Spencer), Sidney Blackmer (Austin Spencer), Arthur Franz (Bob Hale), Philip Bourneuf (Roy Thompson), Edward Binns (Lt. Kennedy)
Similar movies  The Executioner's Song, Capital Execution, Execution of Czolgosz with Panorama of Auburn Prison, Looper, War Horse, Fallen
Tagline  Put them all together they spell M-U-R-D-E-R !

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is a 1956 film noir directed by Fritz Lang and written by Douglas Morrow. The film stars Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer, and Arthur Franz. It was Lang's second film for Friedlob, and the last American film he directed.


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) movie scenes


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) movie scenes

Austin Spencer (Sidney Blackmer), a newspaper publisher, wants to prove a point about the inadequacy of circumstantial evidence. He talks his daughter's fiancee, Tom Garrett (Dana Andrews), into participating in a hoax, in an attempt to expose the ineptitude of the city's hard-line district attorney. The plan is for Tom to plant clues which will lead to his arrest for the murder of a female nightclub dancer, Patty Gray. Once Tom is found guilty, Spencer is to reveal the setup and humiliate the District Attorney.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) movie scenes

Tom agrees to the plan, not knowing that unforeseen events will put a snag in the scheme. Spencer dies in a car accident before he can testify, and photographic evidence intended to clear Tom at his trial is burned to an unrecognizable state. Tom is found guilty and placed on death row in prison. A written testimony by the dead man is found in time to prove the two men's intentions, and Tom is to be pardoned.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) wwwgstaticcomtvthumbmovieposters3120p3120p

However, a slip about the late woman's real name to his fiancee Susan (Joan Fontaine), leads him to confess. Patty Gray, the murder victim, is actually Emma Blucher, Tom Garrett's estranged wife, who had reneged on her promise to divorce him in Mexico. As this was preventing Garrett from marrying Susan he murdered Emma. Garrett's pardon is cancelled in time to prevent the double jeopardy rule coming into effect, and the film closes with him being led back to his cell. We are given to assume that his execution goes ahead as scheduled.


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 1956 Fritz Lang Twenty Four Frames

  • Dana Andrews as Tom Garrett
  • Joan Fontaine as Susan Spencer
  • Sidney Blackmer as Austin Spencer
  • Shepperd Strudwick as Jonathan Wilson
  • Arthur Franz as Bob Hale
  • Philip Bourneuf as DA Roy Thompson
  • Edward Binns as Lt. Kennedy
  • Robin Raymond as Terry Larue
  • Barbara Nichols as Dolly Moore
  • Dan Seymour as Greco
  • Rusty Lane as Judge
  • Joyce Taylor as Joan Williams
  • Carleton Young as Allan Kirk
  • Joe Kirk as Clothing Store Clerk
  • Charles Evans as Governor
  • Wendell Niles as Announcer
  • Critical response

    Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 1956 DVD Amazoncouk Dana Andrews

    Keith M. Booker states that Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is "perhaps the bleakest of his [Lang's] American noir films". Dennis L. White describes the film as having "considerable impact, due not so much to visual style, but as to the narrative structure and mood and to the expertly devised plot, in which the turnabout is both surprising and convincing." Stella Bruzzi, author of Men's Cinema: Masculinity and Mise-en-Scene in Hollywood, felt that the film plot was "overly schematic" and "motivated by a paradox", affecting "an invisible, transparent style while, at the same time, being all about surface and performance". She adds that Lang "deploys an ostentatiously unintrusive 'classical' style", which he "purposefully reduces down to its minimalist bare necessities". Writer James McKay notes that Fontaine as Susan Spencer is "a little bit more forward than we normally expect, in a role that requires her to do all the running where her man's concerned".

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    Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote a mixed review, but appreciated Lang's efforts, "Cheerlessly written with many plot holes, implausible contrivances and legal absurdities by law school graduate Douglas Morrow, though ably directed by film noir maven Fritz Lang (M/While the City Sleeps/Scarlet Street). Lang's last American film is a low-budget twisty courtroom drama about the dangers of capital punishment that ends up being about something more intangible--the unpredictability of fate ... But in this subversive film a perverse atmosphere of subliminal uncertainty prevails over the established surface reality, and the surprise ending comes as more of an emotional shock than as a real surprise--allowing the filmmaker to pass on his cynicism and disillusionment over the human condition. The stark, alluring and unconventional film is worth seeing for the ingenuous way it resolves the brain-teasing dilemma it raised."

    Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Movie 1956

    Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956 film) Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 1956 Fritz Lang Twenty Four Frames


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