Franchise Affair, The (1951)

UK / 87 minutes / bw / Associated British Dir: Lawrence Huntington Pr: Robert Hall Scr: Robert Hall, Lawrence Huntington Story: The Franchise Affair (1948) by Josephine Tey Cine: Günther Krampf Cast: Michael Denison, Dulcie Gray, Anthony Nicholls, Marjorie Fielding, Athene Seyler, John Bailey, Hy Hazell, Kenneth More, Avice Landone, Maureen Glynne, Peter Jones, Moultrie Kelsall, Ann Stephens, Martin Boddey, John Forrest, Patrick Troughton, Victor Maddern.

Franchise Affair - 0 opener

Made at Elstree, a good adaptation of Tey’s famous novel about the rapid descent of the apparently amiable inhabitants of a sleepy rural town into lynch-mob, witch-hunting mentality. The movie itself is styled to reflect this theme, outwardly having many of the genial trappings of a “cozy” mystery while having at its heart a very steely message indeed.

Teenaged schoolgirl Betty Kane (Stephens) goes missing after visiting an aunt, and turns up a couple of weeks later at her adoptive parents’ home having clearly been beaten. She claims that she spent the intervening period as prisoner of spinster Marion Sharpe (Gray) and her elderly mother (Fielding) at The Franchise, a gloomy old manor on the outskirts of the small town of Melford, somewhere in the Continue reading

Infamous (2006)

US / 118 minutes / color / Killer, John Wells, Warner Independent Dir & Scr: Douglas McGrath Pr: Christine Vachon, Jocelyn Hayes, Anne Walker-McBay Story: Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors Recall his Turbulent Career (1997) by George Plimpton Cine: Bruno Delbonnel Cast: Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Peter Bogdanovich, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini, Juliet Stevenson, Sigourney Weaver, John Benjamin Hickey, Lee Pace, Bethlyn Gerard, Lee Ritchey, Brett Brock, Frank Curcio, Michael Panes.

I must admit, I came into this movie with preconceptions. Having heard little about it (with hindsight, too little) except that its writer/director had created out of whole cloth a jailhouse romantic liaison between Perry Smith and Truman Capote, and having looked at all the bankable stars in the cast list, I’d jumped to the conclusion that it was merely a sensationalistic, opportunistic rehash of the previous year’s Capote (2005). Let me publicly, as Capote himself almost says herein, eat humble pie. This is an excellent movie in its own right, and arguably—although comparisons are pretty pointless when movies are this good—an even better one than its predecessor.

And, yes, there’s something of the star-juggling that I’d been ready to object to: Paltrow’s part, despite her high billing, is a mere cameo, as a nightclub singer, Kitty Dean; she sings her song very prettily, but the sequence is wholly unnecessary and never referred to again. Luckily it’s almost completely forgettable, so my irritation soon dissolved.

The bare bones are as per Capote, while the murder case itself was the subject of In Cold Blood (1967) and In Cold Blood (1996 TVM). Truman Capote (Jones), darling of the glitterati in NYC, is seeking inspiration for his next book when he comes across the brief New York Times report of the Clutter murder in Holcomb, Kansas. He persuades New Yorker editor William Shawn (Curcio) to commission a major article from him about the case (later that article would flower into a book, as we know), and off to Kansas he goes with lifelong friend Nelle Harper Lee (Bullock). At first no one is prepared to give the time of day to this outrageously gay popinjay, but a chance meeting with Marie Dewey (Gerard), wife of the cop in charge of the investigation, Al(vin) Dewey (Daniels), elicits an invitation to Christmas dinner for Nelle and himself, and thereafter all doors are open to them.

Infamous - 1 Arrival in Kansas

Arrival in Kansas.

Infamous - 4 News of the killers' capture

Truman (Toby Jones) reacts to the news of the killers’ capture.

In due course Dick Hickock (Pace) and Perry Smith (Craig, here with an affect disturbingly like that of Bond-era Sean Connery) are caught in Vegas and brought back to Kansas. As they await trial, Continue reading