FINGER OF GUILT. RKO Radio Pictures, 1956.  Initially released in the UK as The Intimate Stranger (Anglo-Amalgamated Films, 1956). Richard Basehart, Mary Murphy, Constance, Roger Livesey, Faith Brook, Mervyn Johns. Screenplay was written by Howard Koch as by Peter Howard. Directed by Joseph Losey, under the pseudonym Alec C. Snowden. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

   To me, Richard Basehart is one of those actors who always turned in a picture perfect performance, but who never became a huge box office motion picture star. Finger of Guilt is just another picture in which he totally absorbs himself into the part he’s playing. (I think that Tension, 1949, in which he plays a meek pharmacist who gets heavily into woman trouble, is one of his best.)

   In Finger of Guilt, another noirish film of some note, he plays an American producer who because of his past has been forced to movie to England to ply his trade, a job he loves. (He is said to have fled after being caught in a dalliance with his boss’s wife.) In the UK he’s married the daughter of the head of the studio he’s working for. Pure love, he says.

   Trouble arises with a series of letters from a girl who claims the two of them had an affair together while he had a brief sojourn between Hollywood and London. Problem is, he doesn’t remember the girl, and since blackmail doesn’t seem to be her goal, he has no idea what she wants from him. Convinced that she she is pulling some kind of fraud on him, he even confides in both his wife and father-in-law.

   So convinced, he even takes his wife up country to meet her. His next problem is that the girl (Mary Murphy) is totally convincing: names, dates, even a signed photo of him. Could he be leading a double life without knowing about it? If he has doubts, even more so does his wife.

   I leave to you to watch this to see how (or if) he works himself out of this dilemma.

   I began this review talking about Richard Basehart, who’s in the movie from beginning to end. Mary Murphy, best known for her role as the girl who redeems Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953), was the one who caught my eye the most, even though she has far less screen time than Basehart does. Her sprightly and somehow innocent acting performance here (both without and within the film) will catch yours too. I guarantee it.

   Only a cliché-ridden shootout at the end spoils this one a bit. Before then, it’s a prime example of a film noir that shows you that you don’t need murders and dead bodies to make a film noir.