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The more I see Sidney Blackmer, the more I like him - he's not a legendary leading man (he was born in 1895), but he's a solid, reliable actor, and considering how many films they were churning out in the 1950s, those were most likely in short supply. I've watched him in several things now, and I've never seen him in a performance that I haven't at least "liked."

"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" is a very timely film, even 60+ years after its release - it deals with the justness of the death penalty, especially in cases that involve only circumstantial evidence, and how some politically minded people use it as a tool in their ambitious plans.

This is a short movie - only 80-minutes long - so it involves just a minimal investment of your time.

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An off-topic comment, having little to do with the film, but sometimes, when I see a letter, or newspaper, while watching a video, I'll freeze it to see what all is in there. I did just such a thing here - the main story pertaining to the film is all over the top. But do you want to see something really weird? Look at the title of the article towards the bottom-right:

Screenshot 2017-04-03 at 20.19.29.png

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One thing I've noticed is just how popular "Scotch and Soda" was as a drink in the movies in the 1950s - people drink it *all the time*. I've seen it ordered in films written about here no less than a half-dozen times, probably closer to a dozen. Another random fact, not relevant to this film, but still, definitely a trend in movies from the 1950s. When's the last time you've seen someone order a Scotch and Soda?

*** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***

Thirty minutes into this film, there's a hole in the plot the size of Crater Lake. If it comes to fruition, the film goes from being a crime drama to a tragedy, all because of some really *stupid* planning.

Right. Sixty minutes into the film, Crater Lake has just been hit by an asteroid, rendering the hole ten-times deeper and wider. Anyone - and I mean *anyone* - who couldn't see this coming, is simply not a sophisticated student of film, and I'm not saying that to sound like a douche-bag, but it was *SO* obvious that it was painful. So obvious that I can't believe it happened. This was one of the worst plot developments I have ever seen in a film, and I simply cannot believe that it happened in an otherwise decent story. How could people not have covered this angle? Or ... did they? I don't want to accuse this film just yet of being a piece of rubbish, but if this plot-hole doesn't resolve itself in a clever and outstanding manner, then this film is just plain lousy. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt, since there's fully thirty minutes left, and the two protagonists weren't stupid. But were the screenwriter, producer, and director stupid? I sure hope not, because for this plot to turn on what is an impossibly *moronic* mistake would be an incredible shame - I refuse to believe it's going to happen. Yet.

You know what? I have a confession to make: Every time I think I'm so God damned smart, I end up being exposed as the stupid, naive, dilettante that I am - and so it is with "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt." I was completely duped, and it was entirely of my own doing - no major motion picture would have left a hole open so yawning that it was a chasm, and this was no exception. The *only* thing I have to say in my defense is that I have the confidence to admit when I'm a fool, and I'm as much of a fool regarding this film as with any I've ever seen.

I am as dumb as dirt - I should have simply ridden the ride, and got off at the Exit, which is what people are supposed to do, instead of trying to be Mr. Expert, and being exposed for the naive, ignorant, wannabe that I am. Damn, I hate being wrong, but I *especially* hate being *THIS* wrong.

This was a very good film. A much better film than I am a viewer of films. In my meager defense, I had *no* idea until just now this movie was directed by the great genius, Fritz Lang. Well done, Mr, Lang, well done.

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I've never seen this movie, but based on your commentary I want to. Just a minor point, though:

Quote

"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" is a very timely film, even 60+ years after its release - it deals with the justness of the death penalty, especially in cases that involve only circumstantial evidence, and how some politically minded people use it as a tool in their ambitious plans.

There are two kinds of evidence in a trial: direct evidence, which means eye-witness testimony, and circumstantial evidence, which includes forensic evidence. Eye-witness testimony is notoriously unreliable, although juries tend to be swayed by it. DNA evidence, which is circumstantial, is nowadays the very best kind of evidence there is in some kinds of cases, and there's no getting around the  number of people convicted on direct evidence and later exonerated on circumstantial (forensic, DNA) evidence. I was once the victim of a serious crime, armed robbery, while working in a movie theatre (many years ago). Two young thugs, who appeared to be so nervous about what they were doing that I was afraid they might shoot me without even meaning to, cleaned out the meager till and fled, their handgun not fired. I couldn't have identified either of them afterward to save my life, but many people in such situations go ahead and pick out people of roughly the same size, shape, and age and convince themselves, and often a jury, that their identification is correct. I'm inclined to think that eye-witness testimony should be disallowed in criminal trials.

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9 hours ago, The Hersch said:

I've never seen this movie, but based on your commentary I want to. Just a minor point, though:

There are two kinds of evidence in a trial: direct evidence, which means eye-witness testimony, and circumstantial evidence, which includes forensic evidence. Eye-witness testimony is notoriously unreliable, although juries tend to be swayed by it. DNA evidence, which is circumstantial, is nowadays the very best kind of evidence there is in some kinds of cases, and there's no getting around the  number of people convicted on direct evidence and later exonerated on circumstantial (forensic, DNA) evidence. I was once the victim of a serious crime, armed robbery, while working in a movie theatre (many years ago). Two young thugs, who appeared to be so nervous about what they were doing that I was afraid they might shoot me without even meaning to, cleaned out the meager till and fled, their handgun not fired. I couldn't have identified either of them afterward to save my life, but many people in such situations go ahead and pick out people of roughly the same size, shape, and age and convince themselves, and often a jury, that their identification is correct. I'm inclined to think that eye-witness testimony should be disallowed in criminal trials.

I assume video cameras are direct evidence - what do you think about them?

(I suspect you'll be all for them in some limited capacity, as they lessen the problem of uncertainty, and allow experts to examine the evidence as the crime was taking place.)

You should search on "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" here on Lang's Wikipedia page before committing (it won't spoil anything at all) - I can see you not liking this film, but I can also see it going either way - this is most definitely not the Lang of "M" that we all know and love (which, to me, contains perhaps the finest extended piece of acting I've ever seen, when Peter Lorre is trapped like an animal); this is 25-years later, in Hollywood, and his final American film - I think he had gotten sick of Hollywood.

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Having just watched "The Wrong Man" I found myself comparing the two films when watching this movie. I liked "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt," but I think Hitchcock's film was much better. Stylistically, it was more compelling, even though it was the straight-forward telling of a true story.

Something about this film felt a little flat to me. It felt like I was watching a longish television show from the era rather than a film by a legendary director. Still, I was entertained by it. Not a bad film. But not a great one, either. 

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