The Verdict

Siegel's first film, an ingenious locked room mystery set in London in 1890, adapted from a novel by Israel Zangwill (often described as the father of the genre). Greenstreet plays a genial Scotland Yard inspector who, dismissed after thirty years of distinguished service when an oversight results in the hanging of an innocent man, deviously stages a second case; this not only sees justice done (the victim is himself a killer), but puts Greenstreet's baffled successor (Coulouris, the ambitious underling who shopped him in the first place) on the road to perpetrating a similar miscarriage of justice in solving it. Fascinatingly, though, Siegel deliberately plays on ambivalences throughout, leaving motivations not quite explained and opening up dark, speculative avenues of paranoia and perversity, not least through Greenstreet's teasing, subtly suggestive intimacy with Lorre as an amiably decadent, inimitably sinister artist friend. The result, impeccably performed and beautifully shot by Ernest Haller, emerges as splendid cross between Gothic melodrama and film noir.

Release details

Duration: 86 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Don Siegel
Screenwriter: Peter Milne
Cast: Rosalind Ivan
Joan Lorring
Paul Cavanagh
George Coulouris
Sydney Greenstreet
Peter Lorre
Morton Lowry
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