The Woman in Question is a relatively unsung film, made in 1950 by Anthony Asquith, the son of a former Prime Minister. I found a DVD version in my quest for whodunit movies – as I've mentioned before in this blog, they are much scarcer than thrillers. And I certainly wasn't disappointed with this one.
A woman (played by Jean Kent) who scrapes a living as a fortune teller in a small seaside town is found strangled in her home. A police team headed by Duncan MacRae investigates and interviews a series of witnesses and potential suspects. The unusual and clever feature of the film is that each witness portrays the victim in a different light, so that understanding her character from the contrasting accounts becomes key to solving the crime. What other books and films have done this so explicitly? A few, but not a large number, I think.
Among the witnesses is a young stage performer played by Dirk Bogarde, whose American accent is so ropey that it comes as a great relief when he admits to his girlfriend that he was actually born in Liverpool – not that there is any trace of a Scouse accent, either. But overall he and the rest of the cast do a good job.
When it emerged that the dead woman had a pet parrot, I anticipated that the bird would provide the detectives with a vital clue, and so it proved. I managed to figure out the identity of the murderer, but this did not in any way spoil my enjoyment of a short, snappy and entertaining mystery movie. It is almost a British film noir, and I can definitely recommend it.