Wed 29 Jul 2009
THE WHOLE TRUTH. Columbia-UK, 1958. Stewart Granger, Donna Reed, George Sanders, Gianna Maria Canale, Michael Shillo. Screenwriter: Jonathan Latimer, based on a play by Philip Mackie. Directors: Dan Cohen, John Guillermin.
Whenever you see Jonathan Latimer’s name somewhere in the credits of a film, you know that movie lovers in general are going to have a good time with it, and mystery fans in particular. The Whole Truth, although 1958 was beginning to be a little late for a movie to be filmed in black-and-white, is no exception.
And although Stewart Granger’s career was on the downswing by the time he made this film — besides North to Alaska and a lot of work on TV and Europe, I don’t see very much else in his later list of credits — he still does a good job playing a film director in Europe having problems controlling the temper of his Italian leading lady, played briefly but most effectively by Gianna Maria Canale, an Italian leading lady herself (in one of her few English language appearances).
It also turns out that Granger, while now happily married to Donna Reed, once had a short affair with Miss Canale, and the latter is holding that over his head — give me my way, she says, or your wife? Behave, or I’ll tell her everything.
I say “briefly” because, this being a murder mystery, Miss Canale’s death comes very early on in the movie. It is very tempting to tell you exactly what George Sanders’ role is in this picture, but suffice it to say that Granger’s character is suspected, and it is up to Donna Reed’s to put up a good front. It is obvious that she has doubts, however, when his story begins to be challenged from all directions.
There are many twists and turns ahead, not all of them wholly believable, but with Latimer in charge, the characters are not idiots — far from it. Sanders, of course, out acts everyone on the set, as only he could whenever given half a chance. There is lots of fun in store if you watch this one — giving, as, I say your suspension of disbelief plenty of room to work, and even to wallow around in.
As for it being filmed in black-and-white, as pointed out in my first paragraph above, I really think the movie ought to have been made in color, even if a good portion of it takes place at night. It looks like a color film with the color turned off, if that makes sense, not a 1940s black-and-white film made by people who knew exactly how to make black-and-white films.