Chase a Crooked Shadow
|Chase a Crooked Shadow|
|Directed by||Michael Anderson|
|Narrated by||Douglas Fairbanks Jr.|
|Music by||Mátyás Seiber|
|Edited by||Gordon Pilkington|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Chase a Crooked Shadow (aka Sleep No More) is a 1958 British suspense film starring Richard Todd, Anne Baxter and Herbert Lom. Michael Anderson directed Chase a Crooked Shadow, the first film produced by Associated Dragon Films, a business venture of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
In her family's Spanish villa, Kimberly Prescott (Anne Baxter) , a young South African heiress of a diamond company, is grieving after her father's recent suicide and the death of her brother Ward (Richard Todd) in a fatal car accident. Kimberly has trouble convincing her friends and family that a completely unknown stranger has taken her deceased brother's identity. The stranger appears to know events of their shared childhood.
After calling police, investigator Vargas (Herbert Lom) examines the documents that the stranger produces and accuses Kimberly of lying. The accident is explained away as the misidentification of a thief who died at the scene. When Vargas leaves, Kimberly and "Ward" are alone, and eerily, he plays a familiar favourite tune on the piano and talks about their father. Taunted by his accusations that she is crazy, and unable to reach her uncle Chandler Bridson (Alexander Knox), locks herself in her bedroom.
In the morning, Ward announces that he has replaced the maid Maria (Thelma D'Aguilar) with a new "friend" named Elaine Whitman (Faith Brook) and hired a butler named Carlos (Alan Tilvern). Confused by Ward's efforts to convince her, Kimberly begins to recall her time following her father's death. She had tried to protect her father's memory after discovering his theft of diamonds from his own company, and appealed to her brother to help her. Instead, Ward had taken the diamonds and died in the an accident, casing her to completely break down and be committed to a mental institution. The diamonds had been hidden in Tangiers.
When Chandler finally appears, he appears to back Ward and when Kimberly is forced to sign a will giving up rights to the the $10 million dollars worth of diamonds, a final confrontation takes place. It is revealed that the stranger is really Inspector Williams and Kimberly is arrested for the death of her own brother, whom she admits to killing to protect her father's good name.
The film was originally known as The Prescott Affair. The story was optioned by Dragon Films which belonged to the team of heiress Pamela Woolworth (niece of F.W. Woolworth) and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. They had previously made The Silken Affair. Dragon developed the story and script, assigning it to two TV writers David Osborn and Charles Sinclair. Roy Kellino was originally attached to produce and direct. David Niven was the first male star announced.
Dragon obtained finance from ABPC who had a releasing arrangement with Warner Bros. The production company became known as Associated Dragon. ABPC's involvement saw director Michael Anderson and star Richard Todd come on to the project. The title was changed to Sleep No More then Chase a Crooked Shadow. Filming started in May 1957. Fairbanks Jr. said he was pressured to make a cameo in the film, but refused.
The guitar music that forms a significant part of the soundtrack is played by Julian Bream
Chase a Crooked Shadow received mixed reviews. Bosley Crowther in his review for The New York Times considered the plot as overly complex and torturous, but that the melodrama was "... nothing amazing, and neither is this film. It's just a moderately well-done program picture, endowed with a couple of standard thrills." As of 2014, Chase a Crooked Shadow currently holds a three and a half star (7.1/10) rating on IMDb.
- Schallert, Edwin. "Grant, Tierney ideal 'Prescott Affair' duo; Lyceum plan on slate." Los Angeles Times, 8 October 1956, p. C11.
- Schallert, Edwin. "Niven films multiply in Europe; John Agar career booming anew." Los Angeles Times, 29 October 1956, p. C11,
- Pryor, Thomas M. "New film group set up in London: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and a member of the Woolworth family to make movies; R.K.G. publicity staff cut." The New York Times, 24 Janury 1957, p. 30.
- Watts, Stephen. "Current action on the British film front: Acclaim new outfit showcase. The New York Times, 18 August 1957, p. X5.
- Pryor, Thomas M. "Anne Baxter gets melodrama role: Actress to co-star in film of 'Sleep No More,' which will be made in Europe." The New York Times, 4 May 1957, p. 25.
- Bawden and Miller. 2016, p. 104.
- Schallert, Edwin. "Bickford will oppose Ives in Peck feature; Fairbanks deal closed." Los Angeles Times, 9 July 1957, p. A9.
- Crowther, Bosley. "Screen: New mystery; Anne Baxter in 'Chase a Crooked Shadow'." The New York Times, 25 March 1958. Retrieved: 23 July 2016.
- K Jha, Subhash. "Reema Kagti’s Aamir Khan starrer to be titled Dhuaan?" Businessofcinema.com, 16 September 2011. Retrieved: 23 July 2016.
- Bawden, James and Ron Miller. Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2016. ISBN 978-0-8131-6710-7.