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Irving Pichel
Robert Young, Susan Hayward, Jane Greer
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Latimer

On trial for murdering his girlfriend, philandering stockbroker Larry Ballentine takes the stand to claim his innocence and describe the actual, but improbable sounding, sequence of events that led to her death.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 5/11/2021

• None


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They Won't Believe Me [Blu-Ray] (1947)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 10, 2021)

For those of us who grew up with Robert Young as kindly doctor Marcus Welby on TV, it always comes as a shock to see him in grittier fare from his earlier days. Nonetheless, that’s where we find the actor via 1947’s film noir effort They Won’t Believe Me.

Stockbroker Larry Ballentine (Young) feels unsatisfied with his personal life. While he uses his long-suffering wife Greta (Rita Johnson) for her fortune, he “dates” and eventually dumps Janice Bell (Jane Greer) before he tries to seduce Verna Carlson (Susan Hayward).

Eventually Larry plots to go off with Verna. However, various crimes take place, with Larry as the prime suspect. These put him on trial as he fights for his life.

None of this falls into spoiler territory, as the movie reveals a crime during its opening five minutes. Believe uses a courtroom structure, so the narrative gets told to us as Larry’s testimony.

That makes this a flashback flick, one that seems to come from Larry’s point of view – I guess. This means we should question the veracity of what we see, especially because the film makes Larry seem more sympathetic than anticipated from the synopsis.

Should we view Larry’s memories with a grain of salt? Perhaps, but unlike other movies of this sort, we don’t find obvious hints that Larry provides a corrupted perspective or that anything we see didn’t happen within the tale’s reality.

I bring this up because as I related, Larry seems more likable and less sociopathic than I might’ve anticipated from the overview. As depicted, Larry comes across more like a hapless pawn than a criminal mastermind.

Granted, the story does eventually push him in a more sinister direction, but we already see him as such a bumbler that he never feels intimidating or conniving. We get Larry more as a semi-incompetent dope than anything else.

That creates an unusual spin on the genre, but not one that I can claim seems especially intriguing. Because Larry turns into such a clumsy lead, it becomes more difficult to invest in the narrative and care what happens.

Theoretically, we should bond with Larry’s women – at least some of them – but they receive too little real exposition to allow them to connect. All three feel thinly developed and not especially interesting, though at least Hayward’s feisty performance adds bite to Verna.

As the movie builds toward the conclusion of Larry’s trial, we should feel anxious to see what happens. However, the prior events never show enough real drama to create interest.

A thriller without much intrigue seems like a dicey proposition. Believe does enough to maintain the viewer’s attention in a moderate manner, but it fails to turn into anything memorable.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus F

They Won’t Believe Me appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer held up well over the years.

Sharpness mainly came across well, with images that largely appeared accurate and well-defined. A few slightly ill-defined elements materialized, but most of the movie showed nice accuracy.

Believe lacked moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge haloes also remained absent. The presence of grain implied that the image didn’t suffer from notable digital noise reduction.

Blacks looked taut and dense, while low-light shots demonstrated appropriate smoothness and clarity. Contrast also appeared well-developed, as the black and white photography showed the expected silvery sheen.

Print flaws failed to become a factor, so we got an image without specks or marks. This turned into a pleasing presentation.

I thought the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack seemed dated but adequate. In terms of dialogue, the lines remained intelligible and offered reasonable clarity.

Neither music nor effects boasted much range or dimensionality, but both appeared clean and accurate enough, without distortion or problems. This mix felt more than acceptable for its vintage.

No extras appear here.

On the surface, They Won’t Believe Me should work, as it offers a film noir tale with a few intriguing twists. However, it suffers from a limp main character and it can’t develop the bite and suspense it needs. The Blu-ray comes with appealing picture and audio but it lacks bonus materials. This feels like a mediocre thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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