Sleuth

  • Directors: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Producers: Morton Gottlieb
  • Writers: Anthony Shaffer
  • Genres: Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine

Andrew Wyke is a wealthy, unhappily married country squire and writer of detective novels who delights in playing elaborate games. Aware that Milo Tindle, the struggling owner of two hair salons, is having an affair with his wife, Marguerite, Wyke invites him to his country manor house in Wiltshire. Wyke is also having an affair with a girl named Teija and is quite happy to divorce his wife. His main concern is that Tindle, a struggling businessman, will be unable to maintain Marguerite in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed, and that she’ll leave him and return to Wyke.

Wyke suggests that Tindle steal some valuable jewelry and sell it in order to live happily with Marguerite, while Wyke will claim the insurance in order to live happily with Teija. When Tindle agrees, Wyke offers him a disguise in case of unexpected visitors and, dressed up as a clown and under Wyke’s supervision, Tindle breaks into Wyke’s manor house, blows open the safe and obtains the jewels.

Wyke then reveals that he has lured Tindle into a trap whereupon he can legally shoot him as an intruder. Wyke’s real grievance is that his wife has been having an affair with a working-class boy made good rather than a member of the upper classes like himself (Tindle’s Italian origins make him even worse in Wyke’s eyes). He looks upon Tindle as nothing more than a gigolo, “a jumped-up pantry boy who doesn’t know his place”. While Tindle begs for mercy, Wyke fires the gun and he falls to the floor.

Within a few moments, a police car, with lights flashing, reaches Wyke’s front door, and someone begins to knock. Wyke tries to retreat away from the window to avoid being seen, while Tindle, bleeding profusely and barely able to crawl, grabs the switch wired to the entirety of Wyke’s large collection of mechanical toys, which come violently to life and attract the attention of the police. As the screen fades out, Wyke realizes that he is ruined, and the dying Tindle laughs and says mockingly, “Andrew… be sure and tell them… it was only a bloody game.”

Fury

  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Producers: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Writers: Bartlett Cormack, Fritz Lang
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Sylvia Sidney

Enroute to meet his fiancée, Katherine Grant (Sylvia Sidney), Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) is arrested on flimsy circumstantial evidence for the kidnapping of a child. Gossip soon travels around the small town, growing more distorted through each retelling, until a mob gathers at the jail. When the resolute sheriff (Edward Ellis) refuses to give up his prisoner, the enraged townspeople burn down the building.

The district attorney (Walter Abel) brings the main perpetrators to trial for murder, but nobody is willing to identify the guilty, and several provide alibis. The case seems hopeless, but then the prosecutor produces hard evidence: newsreel footage of twenty-two people caught in the act.

However, Katherine is troubled by one piece of evidence. The defense attorney had tried to get his clients off by claiming that there was no proof Joe was killed, but an anonymous letter writer had returned a partially melted ring belonging to Joe. Katherine notices that a word is misspelled just as Joe used to spell it.

She discovers that Joe escaped the fire and that Joe’s brothers are helping him get his revenge. She goes to see Joe and pleads with him to stop the charade, but he is determined to make his would-be killers pay. However, his conscience starts preying on him and, in the end, just as the verdicts are being read, he walks into the courtroom and sets things straight.

The Philadelphia Story

  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Producers: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Writers: Play, Philip Barry, Screenplay, Donald Ogden Stewart, Waldo Salt
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart

Tracy Samantha Lord Haven (Hepburn) is a wealthy Main Line Philadelphia socialite who had divorced C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and is about to marry nouveau riche “Man of the People” George Kittredge (John Howard). The situation is complicated when she is blackmailed by publisher Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) into granting exclusive coverage of the wedding to tabloid reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey). In exchange, Spy magazine agrees to refrain from exposing the antics of Tracy’s philandering father, Seth (John Halliday). As the wedding nears, Tracy finds herself torn between her fiancГ©, her ex-husband, and the reporter. The challenging personalities of Mike and Dexter force the stolid Kittredge into the background.

The night before the wedding, Tracy gets drunk for only the second time in her life and takes an seemingly innocent swim with Mike, though they hint at something more. When George sees Mike carrying an intoxicated Tracy into the house afterwards (both of them wearing only bathrobes), he thinks the worst, that his bride-to-be has disgraced herself. The next day, he tells her that he was shocked and feels entitled to an explanation before going ahead with the wedding. Tracy takes exception to his lack of faith in her and breaks off the engagement. Then she realizes that all the guests have arrived and are waiting for the ceremony to begin. Mike volunteers to marry her (much to Liz’s distress), but Tracy graciously declines. At this point, Dexter makes his successful bid for her hand.

All About Eve

  • Directors: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Producers: Darryl F Zanuck
  • Writers: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm

Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is one of the biggest stars on Broadway, but despite her unmatched success, she is beginning to show her age. After a performance one night, she encounters a young woman named Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Eve claims to be her biggest fan, and an aspiring actress from Milwaukee, who tells a group gathered in Margo’s dressing room that she followed Margo to New York after seeing her in a play in San Francisco. Gradually the film reveals that she is a scheming and duplicitous woman who plans to take from Margo everything she holds dear: her lover (Gary Merrill), her friends (Celeste Holm and Hugh Marlowe), and her stage career and fame.

Eve begins working to supplant Margo, scheming to become her understudy and taking advantage when Margo is unfairly prevented from making a performance, so that she herself can step in, performing to an audience full of critics. When this fails to jump-start her career, she blackmails her way into playing the next role Margo had been promised, unaware that Margo herself, unhappy at playing roles that are now too young for her, has decided not to do it anyway. Eve attempts to climb higher by using theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). Just before the out-of-town opening of her play Eve faces DeWitt with her next plan – to marry playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe) after he divorces his wife, Karen (Celeste Holm). DeWitt, with plans of his own, confronts Eve and reveals her trumped up story of how she came to New York via San Francisco. In fact, Eve had been forced to leave a job at a brewery in Milwaukee when her boss’s wife caught wind of Eve’s improper connection to the boss. Addison, although reviled by Eve, is at the same time attracted to her and continues to advance her career.

Eve, now a Broadway star, is presented with an award for her performance in that role. Afterwards, she encounters an apparently besotted young fan who had sneaked into her apartment – with the cycle of star and fan presumably beginning all over again.