I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes

Released May 23, 1948: I WOULDN’T BE IN YOUR SHOES, starring Don Castle, Elyse Knox, and Regis Toomey.  Directed by William Nigh (Mutiny in the Big House, Black Dragons, Allotment Wives).  IWouldntBeInYourShoesDon Castle and Elyse Knox are a married couple whose dancing careers have recently hit a slump.  They eke out a modest existence in a small one-room apartment, supported by Knox, who teaches at a local dancing school.  Through a series of circumstances that involve a lost pair of tap shoes, a found wallet, and out-of-print bills, the police come to suspect Castle of committing a brutal murder and robbery in the neighborhood.  Castle is eventually tried and convicted of the crime, which he did not commit.  As his execution date nears, Knox desperately seeks a way to save her husband from the electric chair, and eventually approaches one of the detectives (Regis Toomey), who has a crush on her, for help.  This is one of those lesser known noir films with a story that’s worth bringing to life that had to claw its way to the big screen on a bare bones budget.  The cast doesn’t contain any big name actors, the production values are adequate at best, the dialog is occasionally awkward and inelegant, and the overall presentation lacks the flair of a major feature.  Yet in spite of these shortcomings, the film succeeds, primarily on the strength of its capable story.  In the early going, the plot details may seem a little far fetched with too many convenient coincidences stacked on top of one another, but by the end, we’re rewarded with a satisfying outcome that has all the pieces falling into place in a plausible manner.  Convincing performances by Castle and Knox keep us emotionally invested for the duration.  The love between them is palpable, and their relationship has an aura of authenticity that makes their nightmarish situation all the more tragic.  However, the casting of veteran character actor Regis Toomey as the police detective who is sweet on Knox is one of the film’s bigger liabilities.  Toomey is no stranger to playing cops, and he’s great at portraying hard-boiled police work.  But when it comes to expressing his romantic feelings during intimate conversations with Knox, he’s dreadfully stiff and awkward, and not in a charming “aww shucks” way.  You can almost see Knox struggling to play against his rigid face and monotone delivery.  But what I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes lacks in polish, it makes up for with a satisfying mystery and a sly ending that gradually creeps up on you.  Some viewers will pick up on it sooner than others, but the plot does a decent job of misdirecting us for as long as possible.  We give I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes 3.5 out of 5 fedoras.

3.5 Fedoras

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