The Verdict

Released Nov. 23, 1946: THE VERDICT, starring Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Joan Lorring. Directed by Don Siegel (The Big Steal, Crime in the Streets, Invasion of the Body Snatchers). Greenstreet is a veteran London police detective who is dismissed from the force when he mistakenly sends an innocent man to the gallows. TheVerdictGreenstreet’s friend, who was related to the murder victim in the failed case, is subsequently found murdered in his bedroom, which was locked from the inside with no evidence of entry or exit. These mysterious circumstances are ultimately too baffling for the police to solve, so Greenstreet is called in to help. What unfolds is a fairly run-of-the-mill Victorian-era mystery that’s made special by the delightful presence of Greenstreet and Lorre. The mystery itself is not a bad one, but the level of intrigue and suspense in the story never quite manages to rise above a mild simmer. What makes this film worth watching, however, is the mystery’s unexpected resolution, and the performances by Greenstreet and Lorre, who are at the top of their game. Lorre in particular, is a joy to watch. His character is a carefree but introspective playboy who wants nothing out of life but “wine, women, and song”. He has some of the best lines in the movie, and delivers them with an unmistakable comedic pathos that is uniquely his. Greenstreet moves through the film with an air of assured confidence and complete mastery, dominating every scene not just with his enormous physical presence, but with an innate sense of grace and charm. This was the pair’s sixth and final film together, and the special synergy they shared is clearly evident. The Verdict was also director Don Siegal’s debut feature. He of course, would go on to direct several more classic noir films, and continue his legendary career into the 1960s and 70s. For fans of polite Victorian mysteries, The Verdict is definitely worthwhile viewing. For those who like their noirs gritty and hard-hitting, this film probably won’t scratch the itch. But either way, it’s worth a look just to see Greenstreet and Lorre at their finest. We give The Verdict 3.5 out of 5 fedoras.

3.5 Fedoras

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