The Man With A Cloak
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Stellar talents Barbara Stanwyck, Joseph Cotton, Leslie Caron and Louis Calhern bring shuddery believability to this literate, deliciously creepy tale set in 1848 New York. The story follows a spirited demoiselle (Caron) determined to save her fiancé's grandfather from his malevolent - and possibly homicidal - servants. Fortified with glass after glass of on-the-cuff wine at a local tavern, an urbane, cloaked stranger comes to her aid. The gentleman displays keen detecting skills as the plot turns from suspicion to murder to the hunt for a missing will. But one thing he does not reveal: his own identity. Surrender yourself to mystery. And a cask of amontillado if you can guess who is The Man with a Cloak.
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Stanwyck is slightly understated as a femme fatale, yet effective enough to likely remind you of her role as the cold-blooded Phyllis Dietrichson from "Double Indemnity." Leslie Caron -- a cloying, gets-on-your-nerves sort of actress whom I could never abide -- is the only fly in the ointment.
Anyone heartless enough to disclose the ending of "Cloak" should spend the next ten years of his or her life behind bars.
Following up her acclaimed film debut in "An American in Paris", Leslie Caron is Madeline Minot, a young Parisian who journeys to little old New York in order to visit her fiancé's grandfather, a certain Mr. Charles Theverner (Louis Calhern). Theverner lives in a mansion with three duplicitous servants, headed by housekeeper Lorna Bounty (Barbara Stanwyck). Certain that Theverner's life is in danger, Madeline appeals to a cloaked stranger (Joseph Cotten), in trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. Madeline's fiancé, caught up in the French Revolution, needs funds desperately, but so do Lorna and her accomplices. Just exactly who can Madeline trust in this gaslit game of cat-and-mouse?
This highly odd period thriller from 1951 is definitely "B" territory, but the art direction is typical classy MGM all the way. Barbara Stanwyck plays her usual dastardly femme fatale, this time in period clothes; Leslie Caron perfectly contrasts as the waif in her trap. Joseph Cotten oozes charm and heroism as the cloaked character of the title. There's an eye-opening twist ending, and David Raksin's score is very pretty.
The print on this DVD-R from the Warner Archive is basic but watchable. It doesn't look to have undergone a restoration (there's a considerable amount of speckle and debris in the image). There are no extras, and as per most of the other Warner Archive titles, you may only proceed through the movie in ten-minute increments.
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My main interest in movies are the kind TCM shows so I decided to give this a try as I don't remember ever...Read more