NOIR NOVEL CONVERSION, WITH HIGH STYLE.
Harry Whittington, author of over 200 novels during a lengthy career, with
"Web Of Murder" the noirish thriller upon which this film is based appearing
in 1958, is widely recognized as one of the more skillful plotmasters within
the field of crime fiction and this production adheres to the basic
structure of the original. The work is replete with wit, although the
majority is not found within the mildly disjunctive scenario or from the, at
times, somewhat languid direction of canny Bill Condon, but instead is
centered within the moodily clever lighting and camerawork under supervision
of Ron Murphy, along with the creative and droll costumes of Grania Preston.
Murphy's fellow Australian Bryan Brown capably portrays Charlie Deegan, a
rather unsavoury American defense attorney in love with his secretary Laura
(Teri Hatcher), and conspires with her to murder his moneyed wife whom he
detests, but as we must expect from a cinematic crime of passion, dire
complications ensue after there is no turning back. Whittington's novel, of
the hard boiled genre, whisks along at a fevered pace whereas this picture,
utilizing a voiceover track of Brown, is more leisurely yet still quite
enjoyable largely due to its sharp casting from top to bottom with only the
aesthetic exceptions of Anne DeSalvo and Veronica Cartwright, each next to
impossible to make as undesirable as their characters are in the book.
Cartwright gathers in the acting laurels here with her feral performance as
Deegan's fly in the ointment, with Hatcher's prototype from the mystery
novel being far more aggressive than is the actress in a role that, after
all, depicts murder for profit, while top-flight supporting turns come from
Pruitt Taylor Vince, Ron Karabatsos, Anna Thomson and Brent Hinkley;
additionally notable are the splendid sets of Jim Adams, art design by
Richard Sherman and a wry thematic score by Philip Giffin, all complementing
the visual concepts of the cinematography, while one shall not overlook the
extraordinary opening credits, employing a spider and a hapless fly (come
into my parlour....), highlighted by excellent sound mixing for this stylish
and generally overlooked film..