Beyond a Reasonable Doubt DVD
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Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced in 1956
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
A terrific thriller with an ingenious twist, the pieces of Fritz Lang's final American film lock together like a fiendish logic puzzle, says Michael Bartlett.
A terrific thriller with an ingenious twist, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt succeeds despite (or is it because of?) its rather far-fetched plot. Successful novelist Tom Garrett deliberately plants evidence to frame himself for a murder, so that he can expose the flaws in the capital punishment system. But his plan goes awry, and soon he's facing the electric chair himself.
Now, we're used to seeing Fritz Lang's protagonists as victims of cruel fate, but the fascination of this film lies in watching a man walk into a trap of his own making. The complicated narrative flows smoothly because Lang is at his most stripped-down aesthetically, reducing the story to its basic elements with few directorial flourishes, the pieces locking into place as in a fiendish logic puzzle, a far cry from the florid excesses he'll soon indulge in his Indian Epic.
There's an intriguing cast, too, with Dana Andrews - Hollywood's most underrated leading man - as Garrett, and Joan Fontaine, of all people, as his bewildered fiancee.
Lang's ingenious final American film is one of his greatest achievements - a gripping and controlled dissection of the arbitrary nature of justice. Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine star.
Hoping to expose fatal flaws in the legal system, a writer (Andrews) places a bet that he can have himself convicted of murder on purely circumstantial evidence by planting false clues at a crime scene, before sensationally revealing his trick at the last minute. However, a series of disastrous coincidences leaves him facing the chair - and a frantic search for the true killer begins.
Length: 80 mins
Cat No: EX004D
Format: DVD B&W
- Original trailer
- Stills gallery
- Collector's art card.