Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

“Nothing about this case will be dead until Garrett’s executed.”

A novelist (Dana Andrews) engaged to the daughter (Joan Fontaine) of a publisher opposed to capital punishment (Sidney Blackmer) agrees to be part of a scheme proving that even innocent men can be convicted of crimes they didn’t commit — but things quickly go awry in unexpected ways.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Corruption
  • Courtroom Drama
  • Dana Andrews Films
  • Falsely Accused
  • Fritz Lang Films
  • Joan Fontaine Films
  • Writers

This final Hollywood film by Fritz Lang is, sadly, a disappointment. Familiar Langian themes — i.e., respectable, career-obsessed men whose involvement with “loose” women precipitates their downfall and causes them to lose the true love of their lives — are present, but play out in a pedantic and uninvolving fashion. Andrews is literally walking through his role (apparently alcoholism was causing him troubles), and his character’s choice to put his life at risk for the sake of proving a point seems stupid beyond belief. The three strippers (Barbara Nichols, Robin Raymond, and Joyce Taylor) at the heart of the seedy underground are one-dimensional cliches:

Meanwhile, Fontaine and Andrews’ romance is paper-thin:

… and Fontaine is so clearly still adored by a former suitor (Arthur Franz) that we know things aren’t quite done between them.

The first plot twist (involving Blackmer) is predictable, while the second twist doesn’t ring true for a second. Feel free to skip this one.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No, unless you’re a diehard Lang completist.


One thought on “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

  1. Not must-see.

    Shaky premise leads to Lang and his cast (inc. a miscast Fontaine in an odd performance of an odd role) laboring under a rather awkward – as well as annoying and overly-contrived – script. The result is a clumsy movie.

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