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UK/USA 1961
Directed by
Michael Anderson
99 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Naked Edge

Journeyman British director Michael Anderson’s domestic suspense thriller is clearly indebted to (British-born) Alfred Hitchcock but lacks Hitch’s auteurial hand. The Naked Edge is like an illustrated radio play but ironically the illustrations are its weakest aspect.

Gary Cooper plays an American successful businessman living in London whose wife (Deborah Kerr) comes to suspect him of murdering his boss five years earlier and pinning the rap on a fellow employee.

Although the script was by Joe Stefano who wrote Hitchcock’s Psycho which had come out the previous year, Suspicion (1941) with Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine is an obvious reference point here. Unfortunately Anderson’s handling of a similar situation lacks both style and credibility as Kerr struggles, and pretty much fails, to convince us that she is wracked by doubts and the fear of living with a ruthless killer. Cooper meanwhile is obligingly enigmatic, sometimes appearing reassuring, sometimes threatening as the script requires but more in a schizoid than ambiguous way (he also has a remarkable knack of popping up out of nowhere).

The film has, by British standards at least, an odd undercurrent of sexual titillation (hte title refers to a cutthroat razor, notably thanks to Hermione Gingold as a mannish maneater and her flagrantly gay toy boy (Sandor Elès). Unlike what Hitchcock had wanted for Suspicion, Anderson opts for a signed-and-sealed ending although it is clumsily handled (and I'm not even sure, red herrings allowed, that the plot stacks up). Arguably the best part of the film is the location photography of 1950s London.   

FYI: The film was the last screen appearance for Cooper who died of cancer that year.




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