Picture the dingy office of Sigmund Nuefeld, the president of PRC Pictures. Surrounded by clouds of cigar smoke, Nuefeld is sitting across the desk from his brother, director Sam Newfield. (If you don't want to be accused of nepotism, make the name change just a little less obvious, bub.) They're discussing the studio's next round of releases.
SIGMUND: I was thinking -- remember Double Indemnity?
SAM: What, with Stanwyck and whatshisname, Freddie Murray?
SIGMUND: Fred MacMurray. Yeah. It made a mint. Why don't we just do another version?
SAM: A remake? Paramount owns the property.
|"Hey, didn't MacMurray and|
Stanwyck meet on the stairs, too?"
SAM: Sig, you're a genius. Say, you've got Hugh Beaumont and Ann Savage under contract. Squint your eyes and they look like Murray and Stanwyck.
SIGMUND: MacMurray. Think you could finish it by Friday?
SAM: Gimme an extra C-note and you'll have gift-wrapped on Thursday.
SIGMUND: Whaddaya trying to do, break the budget?
|Don't do it, Hugh! She isn't worth it!|
|The grief-stricken widow poses for a|
|It's hard for a reporter to maintain his|
objectivity when he's the real killer.
A man can take just so much from a dame, so when Kenny decides to pay Toni a visit in order to catch her with Webb, guns are drawn. ("You raise murder to a high degree of efficiency," Kenny tells her almost admiringly.) In short order, all three are plugged, with Kenny living long enough to drive back to work in order to write his confession. Frankly, it was no more convincing when MacMurray did it in Double Indemnity.
|The Brangelina of Poverty Row.|
|Ann in a not-so savage moment.|
PRC director Edgar G. Ulmer supposedly claimed that the studio's original title for Apology for Murder was Single Indemnity, which is either a good joke or a shamelessness unmatched even by Hollywood standards. But as film historian Michael Price pointed out, before the TV-era there was usually no way you could ever see your favorite movie again once it left town. These low-budget copycat releases helped you re-live the experience. (Today's studios, however, have no excuse.) Taken strictly on its own terms, Apology for Murder is a fine hour's entertainment. While the dialogue isn't as hard-bitten as Double Indemnity's, it's certainly well chewed by its stars. Jack Newfield's direction makes sure the pace never flags. Best of all, Hugh Beaumont and Ann Savage are no less mesmerizing than their A-list counterparts. Apology for Murder has nothing to apologize for.
To read about another Hugh Beaumont shocker, Money Madness, click here.
I've often mentioned the uber-film noir Detour, which features Ann Savage's greatest performance -- and which recently earned her a place in Time magazine's Top 10 movie villains. An exceptionally good print of Detour can be seen for free here on YouTube -- the best 67 minutes ever put on celluloid.