Movie Diary 3/5/2018

Three Cases of Murder (David Eady, George More O’Farrell, Wendy Toye [and Orson Welles?], 1955). Are there Welles fans who have seen this very peculiar enterprise? It’s an omnibus film of three stories, with Welles in very large form in the final segment. The first is called “In the Picture” and has dandyish Alan Badel emerging from a mysterious painting in a museum – he is in fact the artist – and bringing a museum employee into the canvas, where an entire house exists in three dimensions (complete with objects pilfered from the galleries). It has a nice sinister wind-up, and Badel is glorious as the Oscar Wildean fop. Director Wendy Toye was a rare example of a women filmmaker in Britain at the time. The second segment, “You Killed Elizabeth,” is a solid twisty number about two men in love with the same woman (the extremely busy Elizabeth Sellars). Welles comes into the third piece, “Lord Mountdrago,” from a Somerset Maugham story; he plays a conservative lion of the British Parliament, whose contemptuous treatment of a Welsh colleague (Badel again) leads to a possible curse being laid on him. Welles’ character has bizarre, humilating nightmares and begins to doubt his sanity. It’s a chance for some comedy from OW, and there doesn’t seem to be much question – either from what you see on screen or from some testimonies about the production – that Welles directed or strongly guided some of the material. If this movie isn’t exactly Dead of Night, it’s awfully good.

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