Getting Away With Murder of Sorts
I suppose I should say this but I have said it so many times before but here goes, I really get put off by the term "film-noir" it seems to get banded about that it seems like any movie which is a black and white crime story is immediately "film-noir" when that is not always the case. It is the reason why for a long time I have put off watching "They Won't Believe Me" and having watched it I can't say that it did a lot for me. That doesn't mean it isn't good, it's not with out its issues but it is a solid little crime drama with a nice looking cast but it doesn't really suck you in.
On trial for murder Larry Ballantyne (Robert Young - Secret Agent) tells the court how it all happened, how despite being married to the wealthy Gretta (Rita Johnson) he had a weakness for attractive women. First there was Janice (Jane Greer - Out of the Past) who was a friend of Gretta's and then after trying to be the faithful husband came Verna (Susan Hayward - The Lost Moment) who was a secretary at the company firm. When Gretta discovers Larry's latest affair she gives him an ultimatum and so he goes with her to live in her isolated ranch where she hopes the isolation will prevent Larry from straying. But even life on a ranch doesn't stop him and on a trip in to town he meets up with Verna and discusses running away together and stealing money from Gretta's account. But when Larry decides to lead with Verna a series of events leads to his arrest on suspicion of murder.
Now right from the start "They Won't Believe Me" annoyed me as we are taken to the courtroom with Larry's lawyer speaking to the jury as if he was summing up yet it is just a prelude to Larry taking the stand and then rather than question Larry on the stand Larry gets to tell his life story, totally uninterrupted. Yes I know we are talking movie here but it is a far fetched opening which includes a less than subtle introduction to various other characters that will have an important part to play including one whose face is kept hidden from us as if we are to wonder who he is.
Anyway after what for me is a nonsense opening we get to the story which takes its time to get to the real meat of the story. As such the first half is all about Larry and his incurable philandering as well as the control that Gretta has over him so we see how his affair with Janice comes to an end because Gretta, well aware of his ways offers him something better. We see this when it comes to his relationship with Verna as well as he ends up agreeing to live on Gretta's isolated ranch with her even though it is like a prison.
Now as to what happens next well this is where I will stop because this is where "They Won't Believe Me" finally starts to get truly interesting with a series of events which explain why Larry is on trial for murder but what I will say is that these events have some nice twists to them. The thing about "They Won't Believe Me" is that whilst it uses some huge contrivances to both tell the story but also create twists it is well acted. Robert Young delivers this solid performance of a man who loves women and finds himself in a big mess because of his philandering ways and plans. Young is matched by Rita Johnson as his wife Gretta delivering a woman confident in knowing that she has some control over Larry because of her money. And both Jane Greer and Susan Hayward are lovely as the other women although Greer is criminally under used.
What this all boils down to is that "They Won't Believe Me" is a solid crime story from the 1940's which probably has great appeal for devotees of film-noir. But for anyone else it is a nicely put together and well acted crime story with some huge contrivances.