Sunday, January 13, 2013

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman-Joseph Cotten’s “A Blueprint For Murder”

DVD Review
A Blueprint For Murder, starring Joseph Cotton, Jean Peters, 20thCentury Fox, 1953

Personally, I like my femme fatales, my cinematic femme fatales anyway, pretty straightforward. Someone like fetching sultry Jane Greer in Out Of The Past who when she got cross with her main squeeze, her main connected man, shot him point blank and took a bunch of his cash as she sauntered out the door to sunny Mexico. Nice. And then when he, Kirk Douglas he, had her tailed by a couple of private gumshoes to get the dough back, and maybe her too you know how connected guys are, she thought nothing of shooting one of them dead, very dead when the heat was on, and led the other one a merry chase (although he, Robert Mitchum he, knew the score, and took the ride anyway), and when Robert got“religion” on her put the rooty-toot-toot on him too. At least a guy knew where he stood with dear Jane and if he was silly enough to turn his back on her under any circumstances then shame on him. So if his neck was tired from turning around, or if he forgot, and he neglected his defense and a cold piece of steel came his way he was forewarned. Yah, I can appreciate dear Jane because in this wicked old world when a girl is from hunger, well, a girl has got to do what she has to do.
This femme in the film under review, Blueprint For Murder, though throws me off, is somebody who I can’t figure. Yah, this Lynne Cameron (played by Jean Peters) is something else, smart, beautiful (although not to these eyes drop- dead beautiful and sultry like Ms. Greer), would be good company on a cold night, seemingly on top of the world yet was a stone-cold killer, a murderess, a child murderess. And the child in question was one of her stepchildren. See she married rich Bill Cameron after his wife died. (It came out later, at least it was rumored and so take it for what it is worth, that she, working under the name Lola Landry, was a high- class call girl when she met Bill, he was bowled over, and married her after a few weeks. Another story making the rounds later, and one that is more believable to these ears, was that she was a torch singer, working under the name, LaVerne LaRue (nice),in one of Chi town gangster Johnny Rico’s night spots, and his girlfriend. Once he was sent up to Joliet and the dough stopped she, having to watch out for herself in this wicked old world , grabbed for the next best thing, one sad sack but rich widower Bill Cameron whom she met at the club one night and his two young kids, Polly and Doug)

Things were okay, okay as long as Bill breathed and was shelling out the dough to keep her in comfort and was happy with her care of his kids but then he up and died of some rare and exotic disease (no she didn’t have anything to do with his demise after all he was the meal ticket, as far as the coppers were able to determine). Under the terms of Bill’s will though our Lynne was to get coffee and cakes from his million dollar plus estate (yes, it sounds like chump change, just walking around money now, but was real dough, real felony-worthy dough in the 1950s) unless the kids died before her. Some foolish lawyer arrangement as it turned out to protect the kids and kind of freeze her out. Something must have snapped in her with this news because she started spending all her waking hours studying toxicology, studying about human reactions to various types of poisons and, more importantly, how traceable, how criminally traceable they were.
Lynne did her work well as Polly was the first to go from a strychnine dose, not once, but twice, the second time in the hospital after she “volunteered,” as an angel of mercy to run out and get an antidote prescription filled. Yes, Lynne was nothing but a stone-cold killer when she got her wanting habits on. Enter Uncle Cam (played by Joseph Cotten), Bill’s brother, who couldn’t understand how Polly, who appeared to be recovering, could go under. And he was aided (egged on too) in his suspicions by Bill’s lawyer and his over-read amateur sleuth wife who built the case for Polly poisoning inch by inch. More importantly, pointing the finger directly at Lynne once the terms of the will entered center stage as a motive, and once little innocent Doug found himself as the only thing between Lynne and a big payday.

The beauty of poisoning, as the baffled authorities discovered from the amateur sleuths to the cops to the D.A. to judge, is that unless you see the person actually administer the damn stuff it is hard to get a conviction. Cam and his associates tried, got Lynne charged, and got laughed out of court. And in the aftermath laughed at in the face by Lynne who planned to take Doug away from prying eyes with a long European trip by boat. Good-bye Doug. Well, not quite. Cam decided he needed to get some fresh air so he took that same boat trip, pretend courted Lynne, and administered a dose of strychnine that he found in her vanity into her drink. (All parties admitted later that he was both heroic and foolish in that rash act.)Then they played chicken, as the poison worked its way through her system and time was running out. She stood up for her “innocence” like a real pro but in the end she had to cry “uncle” and wound up in some women’s prison doing life for her efforts. Yah, give me a Jane femme and a cranked neck every time, so I don’t have to hire somebody to test my food and drink like the kings of old did. Jesus.

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