In his very last film (his 92nd feature), “The Naked Edge,” Gary Cooper plays American business executive George Radcliffe, who becomes a witness against Donald Heath, a man accused of murder and robbery. Heath is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Suddenly, however, George and a partner amass a large sum of money and start a new business.
Six years later, his wife Martha (Deborah Kerr) shows him a letter that has been in a missing mailbag for years. In the letter, a lawyer accuses George himself of the murder.
Martha wants to believe her husband but, the strong evidence causes her to distrust him, and the situation leads to tensions between them. Playing detective, Martha discovers that George stressed “an accomplice,” in his testimony against Heath, although one was never found.
Martha tells George that she believes the accusations against him, and leaves. Meanwhile, a man sneaks s into the bathroom and picks up George’s razor, just Martha goes to take her bath. No more plot could be told without spoiling the little fun of this mild thriller.
Director Michael Anderson, better known for the 1956 Oscar-winner “Around the World in 80 Days,” lacks the skills required to the making a suspenseful melodrama a la Hitchcock.
I mention Hitchcock for two reasons. First, the film uses one of the master’s most prevalent paradigms, “the wrong man accused.” And second, because the scenario, which based on Max Ehrlich’s novel “First Train to Babylon,” was penned by Joseph Stefano, the scribe of “Psycho.”
Shot in England at the famous Elstree Studios, the movie was released posthumously, weeks after Cooper’s death.
For many critics, Cooper’s final film was anti-climactic in what was otherwise a lengthy and glorious career.
Gary Cooper (George Radcliffe)
Deborah Kerr (Martha Radcliffe)
Eric Portman (Jeremy Clay)
Diane Cilento (Mrs. Heath)
Hermione Gingold (Lilly Harris)
Peter Cushing (Mr. Wrack)
Michael Wilding (Morris Brooke)
Ronald Howard (Mr. Claridge)
Ray McAnally (Donald Heath)
Sandor Eles (Manfridi)
Wilfrid Lawson (Mr. Pom)
Helen Cherry (Miss Osborne)
Joyce Carey (Victoria Hicks)
Diane Clare (Betty)
Frederick Leister (Judge)
Martin Boddey (Jason Roote)
Peter Wayn (Chauffeur)
A Pennebaker-Baroda Production.
Released through United Artists.
Director: Michael Anderson.
Producers: Walter Seltzer and George Glass.
Executive Producer: Marlon Brando, Sr.
Scenarist: Joseph Stefano.
Photographer: Edwin Hillier.
Editor: Gordon Pilkington.
Musical Score: William Alwyn.
Art Director: Carmen Dillon.
Sound Recorder: Norman Coggs.
Assistant Director: Jock McGregor.
Production Supervisor: Billy Kirby.
Conductor, Sinfornia of London: Muir Mathieson.
Based on the novel “First Train to Babylon” by Max Ehrlich.