Movie Review: Shadow on the Wall (1950)

Synopsis: After killing her sister, Celia, in an argument, Dell Faring feels guilty when Celia's husband, David, is convicted of the murder but, fearing the electric chair, chooses to keep the truth to herself. When she learns Celia's young stepdaughter, Susan, witnessed the murder but has suppressed the memory because of the trauma, Dell does everything possible to prevent a psychiatrist from helping her niece, including trying to murder the girl.

Who's in it? The movie stars Ann Sothern, Zachary Scott, Gigi Perreau, Nancy Davis and Kristine Miller.


Review: I came across this movie yesterday morning and, thinking it looked interesting, decided to give it a watch. After finishing it last night, I have to say this movie more than met my expectations.

The thing I think I liked most about this film was how Dell (Sothern) changes following her sister's (Miller) death. At first, she seemed like she was going to do the right thing and confess to the crime, even going as far as writing out the confession for the police (despite the fact even David believed he was guilty). As the movie progressed, however, she became much more sinister and a bit unpredictable to the point I genuingly wondered if Susan would make it through the movie alive.

In fact, I think the only way the movie could have been better in this regard is if it had shown a bit more of her relationship with Susan (Perreau) prior to the murder so her actions could be put in a slightly better context, especially since Dell, at least at the beginning, was trying to find non-violent ways to keep her niece quiet. It was hard to tell if she was doing that out of genuine concern for Susan or just the normal amount of conscience a person might have when contemplating the murder of a little girl.

If I had any complaints about this movie, it would be the surprising amount of naivity shown by Dr. Canford (Davis) when it came to Dell. Canford was convinced Susan witnessed someone else murdering Celia and, despite knowing the reason for the murder and Dell's potential motive, never once considered the woman was a danger to Susan? She even ends up flat out dismissing the possibility at one point. 

Even without first-hand knowledge of what happened, I think that was something that should have been pretty easy to figure out and, at minimum, you think she would have started putting the pieces together when Susan nearly died a few minutes after Dell was outside (though, to be fair, there was some negligence on the doctor's part as well, in my opinion).

Final Opinion: This is a great psychological thriller that was fun to watch and had me on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion. It is a movie I would recommend watching as a result of this.

My Grade: A

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