The Long Dark Hall (1951)

Genres - Drama, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Courtroom Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 6, 1951 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

"What good is the truth when it doesn't sound true?" says Rex Harrison's character on the witness stand, neatly summing up the theme of this taut and gripping courtroom thriller. Both the leading male characters are caught up in "untrue" lives (dedicated family man for one, compassionate friend for the other) that sound better than their "true" ones (womanizer, serial killer), and the difficulty of separating truth from fiction is played for all it's worth in the intricately-plotted, intriguing screenplay. The film is also notable for dealing with infidelity in a fairly frank manner for the time. While some may argue that it also reinforces a view that women should be forgiving of such dalliances on the part of men, the real strength of the situation lies in the wife's ability to get past her hurt and fight for the life of an essentially innocent man. Rex Harrison turns in a marvelous performance, restrained, yet not lacking, in emotional punch, and Lilli Palmer is his equal; but the standout is the deliciously sadistic Anthony Dawson. His scenes with Palmer are models of nuanced cruelty, and the sequence in which he torments her about her innocent husband's certain death is wonderfully excruciating. Tightly directed, Long Dark Hall is good, tense entertainment.