The Guilty (1947)

Bonita Granville, Don Castle, Regis Toomey, John Litel,
Two guys, sharing an apartment, meet twin girls (both Bonita Granville). One's sweet, the other a major piece of bad news. The nice one is murdered and her boyfriend is accused of the crime. The wrong man-wrong victim plot strikes...
  • 6.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Robert Presnell Sr., Cornell Woolrich, Writer:
  • John Reinhardt, Director:
  • Jack Wrather, Producer:

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0Englishsubtitle The Guilty download
7 / 10

Sleazy production enhances Cornell Woolrich tale of twins - one bad, the other dead

In 1946, Olivia De Havilland donned monogram brooches and identity necklaces to take the dual role of good and bad twins Ruth and Terry in Robert Siodmak's The Dark Mirror. The following year Bonita Granville followed suit, as good and bad twins Linda and Estelle, in Monogram's sub-basement adaptation of a Cornell Woolrich story. Of the two, The Guilty is the creepier, more haunting movie, taking a place of dubious honor amid the nether reaches of film noir.

Mustachioed Don Castle shares his walk-up flat with his superior from army days, Wally Cassel, who's a little unstable owing to a head injury sustained in combat. They're involved in a complicated foursome with the twins; when one of the fellows breaks up with one of the girls, the other takes up with the ditched sister. But the insanely jealous Estelle keeps playing one guy off the other; she wants both and her sister to have neither. One night Linda disappears; later her body is found on a rooftop, in a barrel of gravel (she was too big to shove down the incinerator shaft). Police investigator Regis Toomey encounters a baffling maze of alibis and false clues (Castle is on the hunt as well), until the movie ends with climaxes within climaxes.

All this takes place in but three sleazy sets: The men's apartment; that of the twins, their mother and a long-time boarder (John Litel); and a corner bar from which most of the story is narrated in flashback. A few forays into the dark, deserted streets only enhance the claustrophobia, the obsessiveness of Woolrich's nightmare vision. (And his obsessive fiction reuses the same themes and gambits over and over; there are parallels here to the same year's The Fall Guy, which resembles The Black Angel, which...).

Granville, of course, will ever be the screen embodiment of Nancy Drew, from the four programmers she starred in as the teenaged sleuth during the late '30s. Her career started to sputter in the next decade; for one thing her girlish exuberance didn't blossom into womanly glamor. But she developed a tough, no-nonsense, very-'40s face (not unlike Ann Savage's). Her noir appearances were limited to a small (but meaty) role in The Glass Key and a leading one in the low-budget Suspense. It's a shame, because grew up into quite a good bad girl.

8 / 10

Two Bonitas makes for twice the suspense

Bonita Granville was an extremely talented younger actress, as was clear from 'The Beloved Brat' (1938) and the four Nancy Drew films she made, for instance. She had a special charm and directness which was most refreshing. Here she is, somewhat older, playing identical twins in an extremely low-budget noir thriller produced by her husband Jack Wrather. The sets are so cheap, it seems as if a puff of wind would blow them down, and they are bleak as well, perhaps on purpose to make the atmosphere one of desolation. She is certainly cast against type, since the main twin whom she plays is a bad girl, and Bonita was famous for being a sweetie pie. However, it works, and she proves she can be as sultry and venomous as any gal if she wants to, and she does want to. The two guys are Don Castle and Wally Cassell, which reminds me that Louis Ferdinand-Celine wrote a novel the English title of which is 'Castle to Castle', not bad for this situation, if we change it to 'Cassell to Castle', as one twin passes between the two guys. This is a very powerful and effective noir story with its twists and grisly side. As it is 1947, there is a guy suffering from serious shell-shock, holding his face in his hands and saying: 'I'm going to crack up completely again, like I did the first time'. There are desperate undercurrents of insane jealousy and passion, a disappearance and murder, seething resentments and kisses that are more like football touchdowns, they are so rough. For something made for ten dollars, this is a really good thriller. The voice-over narrative works extremely well, and the whole thing is a knockout if you can forgive the fact that somebody along the way forgot about the need for production values. Anyway, there's Bonita, and you even get two for the price of one.

6 / 10

Who is guilty?

Another good film about twins from 1947 – the other being "Dual Alibi" starring Herbert Lom. In this offering, Bonita Granville plays both the good and the bad sister. One of them is murdered and it's up to Inspector Regis Toomey to get to the truth. Ex-soldier Don Castle (Mike) also does some investigating of his own.

There is a small cast in this offering and so you may suspect the guilty party at some point. However, this story is clever and does provide you with extra twists and turns at the end. The film is short and basically, it fooled me.

Twins always seem to be trouble whenever they pop up in films!

8 / 10

Problems a murderer are faced with when he finds out he killed the wrong girl

This is a very dark noir, almost getting lost in its quest for constantly deeper gloom and darkness. However, it is a clever thriller, and like the protagonists you can impossible find your way of of it or make any head or tail of it, until the detective finally finds the decisive clue, which not even he himself could ever have imagined. Bonita Granville plays the twin sisters among which the wrong one gets killed, while the flirty vamp of them may carry on as before. It's basically a jealousy drama, the murderer's only motivation is mad passionate jealousy, so it's all a question of a crime passionel, with the complication that the wrong one gets murdered. Don Castle keeps up a stiff neck throughout the film, with the problem of having to handle his room mate Wally Cassell, who is constantly washed up and getting worse, as he feels all the guilt and understands least of all, and his character is really the most interesting one. The darkness never leaves the domination of this bleak drama, while every time you have a scene from some living-room with the lights on you breathe out in relief. The hysterical mother doesn't make things any better, though.

5 / 10

Double Entendre

Don Castle is sharing a cheap room with his ex-lieutenant from the army, Wally Cassell. Castle is studying on the G. I. Bill. Cassell drinks a lot. Each is dating Bonita Granville, but it's all right, since she's twins in this movie. One is nice, the other is nasty. Then the nice one gets murdered, and detective Regis Toomey is on the case.

This being derived from a Cornell Woolrich story, it's surprising the guys aren't twins also; it would have saved on actors' salaries, although the process shots might have eaten up the difference. Miss Granville -- soon to become the wife of Jack Wrather, the producer of this movie -- is doubled by showing the back of another actress, or having her voice come from offscreen.

Of course, many odd possibilities arose in my mind. Did one sister kill the other, and then masquerade as the victim? What is John Litel doing in the cast? I started out confused, and even after the ending, I was still confused, because this was directed by John Reinhardt, who liked to throw in every film noir trope whether it should be there or not. Always watchable for the sake of Woolrich's sick symbolism, it's not one of the best noirs I've seen.