DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SHE PLAYED WITH FIRE (aka: FORTUNE IS A WOMAN) (director/writer: Sidney Gilliat; screenwriter: Frank Launder/Val Valentine /from the novel Fortune is a Woman by Winston Graham ; cinematographer: Gerald Gibbs; editor:  Geoffrey Foot; music:  William Alwyn; cast: Arlene Dahl (Sarah Moreton), Jack Hawkins (Oliver Bramwell), Dennis Price (Tracey Moreton), Violet Farebrother (Mrs. Moreton), Greta Gynt (Mrs. Vere Litchen), Christopher Lee (Charles Highbury), Bernard Miles (Mr. Jerome), Ian Hunter (Clive Fisher), John Robinson (Berkeley Reckitt), Geoffrey Keen (Michael Abercrombie), Malcolm Keen (Old Abercrombie); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sidney Gilliat/Frank Launder; Sony Pictures; 1957-UK)

"In this fine traditional noir melodrama you have to decide in the end if the beautiful Arlene Dahl is an arsonist. I had no problem with that."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In this fine traditional noir melodrama you have to decide in the end if the beautiful Arlene Dahl is an arsonist. I had no problem with that. Sidney Gilliat  ("Thev Rake's Progress"/ "Green For Danger"/ "Only Two Can Play") directs and Frank Launder writes this time around, as the talented decade old Brit filmmaker partners adapt Winston Graham' novel Fortune is a Woman to the screen.

In London, young insurance investigator Oliver Branwell (Jack Hawkins), with only two years experience, checks out a small electrical fire, that damaged several paintings, on a Christmas Eve assignment from the father and son run firm he works for, the Abercrombie insurance company, at the Louis Manor, a country estate owned by Tracey Moreton (Dennis Price). The investigator is surprised that the owner's sexy wife Sarah (Arlene Dahl) is an old flame. The former lovers both fail to acknowledge each other. Even though he suspects foul play, Oliver remains mum as he desires more than anything else to see Sarah again. It all leads to an old-fashioned Hitchcock mystery tale of fires, fraud, blackmail, art theft, forgery and romance, with the investigator's rep and career at risk if he doesn't do his job.

Christopher Lee offers a scene stealing winsome performance as a comically contemptuous Welsh murder suspect and aspiring opera singer.

REVIEWED ON 8/28/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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