The Tattered Dress (1957)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film, Psychological Thriller, Courtroom Drama  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The Tattered Dress is a good courtroom drama that doesn't quite reach the heights for which it aims. It also falls between a few too many stools -- it's noir-ish, but not really film noir; it's a legal thriller but ignores some legal niceties; and it's a serious drama that has something to say about society but does so in too facile a manner. As a result, Tattered gets stretched a little too thin for its own good. The movie also suffers a bit from Jeff Chandler's lead performance. The role requires an actor with genuine range and power. Chandler is simply too limited. He tries very hard, and some of his work is quite good; but "quite good" falls short of "mesmerizing," which is what is called for, especially in the climactic trial monologue. Still, even with these failings, Tattered is often gripping and almost always involving. Jack Arnold directs with a sure hand, leaping over some of the plot holes and playing up the strengths of the screenplay. He also utilizes the desert setting to make visual comments about the aridness of his lead character's life. And there's fine supporting work from the duplicitous Jack Carson, the beautiful Elaine Stewart, and the very interesting Gail Russell. Tattered is imperfect, but very effective.