Get out your radio voices and wine glasses, we're reviewing The Unsuspected!
A secretary, Matilda (Joan Caulfield) is murdered, but the murderer makes it look like an accident. Jane (Constance Bennett) is presumed dead at sea, but miraculously comes back to find she has a husband, Steven Howard (Ted North), who she doesn't remember marrying. She's living with her sister and their friend, a famous radio announcer for crime stories, Victor Grandison (Claude Rains). Can any of them find out who is… the unsuspected?
I had real high hopes for a movie that shared a director with Casablanca, but I didn't think I would be let down this much. Man, is this a boring movie. It takes an entire hour before things start getting interesting. I really don't want to take up too much time with this. It’s just bad. There are too many characters I don't care about with too much going on and not enough whodunit suspense.
What's supposed to be the main draw is this radio announcer – someone used to reading off violent and suspenseful crime dramas – who finally finds himself in the middle of a real one. Again, I LOVE meta, and that's a cool idea. But we barely ever see him producing his crime dramas. The brunt of the movie takes place in… his house? The wife's house? Someone's house. It’s not really clear whose. There is a bunch of people talking – not even about the murder, though! There's a ridiculous side-story where Jane comes back, apparently suffering amnesia and unable to recall her recent marriage to our hero, Steven. But who cares? That’s not what I came here for. And it doesn't even matter in the end! Why did they waste literally an hour on this gigantic thing? There's this big love-rhombus between Jane, the guy she was supposed to marry, the guy she actually married, and – criminy! I could not keep up with any of these characters.
Thankfully it started to pick up in the last half an hour. The murderer started to bump people off, and the killer used some pretty clever recording tricks (for the time) to fake the murders, but it's too little too late. This should have been the whole movie! Start killing people twenty minutes in! Have some suspicion and near-misses! The action is meh, the cinematography is meh, the score is meh – there's really no reason you need to watch this. It is just a boring useless slog of a wasted idea. Don't bother.
Also, this is the second noir I've watched where the back of the DVD cover spoiled who the killer is. This isn't a slight against the movie. It’s just a general warning to not read the back of the boxes anymore. Like really guys, what the hell? Maybe not say anything the trailers wouldn't say? Buncha jerks.
THE GOOD: Some clever murder tricks and a bit of nice suspense at the end.
THE BAD: Boring, unfocused, too many ideas, characters are boring and easy to get mixed up, unimaginative, blah.
THE VERDICT: $ There's an hour and forty minutes of my time I will never get back. Thank Batman I was also inking at the time or it would have been a COMPLETE waste of time. Don't bother.
MOVIES BETTER THAN IT: Dial M for Murder, Casablanca, Double Indemnity, Rear Window, Vertigo
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The one guy is trying to get the girl to like him but the other guy is trying to get the other girl to like him and for the life of me I don't know who anybody is.