Beware, My Lovely (1952)

76-77 mins | Drama | September 1952

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Man , Day Without End , The Ragged Edge and One False Move . According to a Nov 1950 HR item, Farley Granger originally was to co-star with Ida Lupino in the picture. Norman Cook was announced as production manager in the same item, but his contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed. Although reviews stated that Beware, My Lovely marked scenic designer Harry Horner's directorial debut, his first film was the United Artists 1952 release Red Planet Mars (see below). A version of Mel Dinelli's play, starring Thelma Ritter and Audie Murphy, was broadcast on the Ford Startime NBC television program on 7 Jan ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Man , Day Without End , The Ragged Edge and One False Move . According to a Nov 1950 HR item, Farley Granger originally was to co-star with Ida Lupino in the picture. Norman Cook was announced as production manager in the same item, but his contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed. Although reviews stated that Beware, My Lovely marked scenic designer Harry Horner's directorial debut, his first film was the United Artists 1952 release Red Planet Mars (see below). A version of Mel Dinelli's play, starring Thelma Ritter and Audie Murphy, was broadcast on the Ford Startime NBC television program on 7 Jan 1960. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Aug 1952.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Aug 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 50
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 51
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 52
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Aug 52
p. 1470.
New York Times
13 Sep 52
p. 10.
Newsweek
29 Sep 1952.
---
Variety
30 Jul 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Man" by Mel Dinelli, published in Story Magazine (May-Jun 1945), and his play of the same name, as produced by the Kermit Bloomgarden Company (New York, 19 Jan 1950).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Day Without End
One False Move
The Man
The Ragged Edge
Release Date:
September 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 September 1952
Production Date:
12 July--early August 1951
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 August 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1937
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76-77
Length(in feet):
6,897
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15411
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1918, in a small town, handyman Howard Wilton finishes a repair on a house and calls out to his employer, Mrs. Warren. Getting no response, Howard prepares to go, then checks inside a closet, where to his horror, he sees Mrs. Warren's dead body. Howard runs from the house, jumps on a train, and eventually ends up in another small town. There, he is hired by Mrs. Helen Gordon, a war widow who needs her large Victorian house cleaned before the upcoming Christmas holiday. Upon arriving at the house, Howard meets Walter Armstrong, Helen's boarder, who is leaving on vacation. Once alone, Howard sets about polishing the floors, but soon recalls Mrs. Warren and becomes distracted. Among Helen's knickknacks, Howard spies a photograph of her husband dressed in a military uniform and turns it face down in disgust. He then goes upstairs to store his overcoat in Helen's cedar closet, while she telephones the grocer with an order. When he comes back down, having heard the last few words of the phone conversation, he nervously asks Helen if she is satisfied with his work. Helen reassures him and suggests that she might hire him on a regular basis. Howard smiles at the prospect but then grows morose, commenting that no one ever asks him back. Sensing Howard's disquiet, Helen encourages him to discuss his problems, but he refuses. Despite feeling dizzy, Howard returns to his floor polishing, while Helen goes upstairs. Soon after, Helen's teenage niece, Ruth Williams, bursts in. When Howard ignores her flirtations, Ruth taunts him about the unmanliness of his job. Infuriated, Howard locks the front door ... +


In 1918, in a small town, handyman Howard Wilton finishes a repair on a house and calls out to his employer, Mrs. Warren. Getting no response, Howard prepares to go, then checks inside a closet, where to his horror, he sees Mrs. Warren's dead body. Howard runs from the house, jumps on a train, and eventually ends up in another small town. There, he is hired by Mrs. Helen Gordon, a war widow who needs her large Victorian house cleaned before the upcoming Christmas holiday. Upon arriving at the house, Howard meets Walter Armstrong, Helen's boarder, who is leaving on vacation. Once alone, Howard sets about polishing the floors, but soon recalls Mrs. Warren and becomes distracted. Among Helen's knickknacks, Howard spies a photograph of her husband dressed in a military uniform and turns it face down in disgust. He then goes upstairs to store his overcoat in Helen's cedar closet, while she telephones the grocer with an order. When he comes back down, having heard the last few words of the phone conversation, he nervously asks Helen if she is satisfied with his work. Helen reassures him and suggests that she might hire him on a regular basis. Howard smiles at the prospect but then grows morose, commenting that no one ever asks him back. Sensing Howard's disquiet, Helen encourages him to discuss his problems, but he refuses. Despite feeling dizzy, Howard returns to his floor polishing, while Helen goes upstairs. Soon after, Helen's teenage niece, Ruth Williams, bursts in. When Howard ignores her flirtations, Ruth taunts him about the unmanliness of his job. Infuriated, Howard locks the front door after Ruth departs and pockets the key. Helen then comes down and, seeing Howard's confusion, suggests that he is too ill to work. Helen's concern angers Howard, who reveals that he was rejected for military service because the doctors ruled him mentally unfit. Howard confesses that he has frequent memory lapses and visions of dead people. When Howard admits that he sometimes wonders if he may have killed the people, Helen, frightened, heads for the front door. Howard stops her, but denies he locked the door or has the key. After Helen manages to calm him, Howard asks if he can stay with her for a couple of weeks. Helen says no, stating that Armstrong will soon be returning, but promises to ask her boarder about giving up his room. Howard, who has already forgotten about Mr. Armstrong's vacation, falls for Helen's trick and agrees to leave. While Helen is upstairs retrieving Howard's coat, however, Harold Franks, a friend of Armstrong, shows up, inquiring about the vacated room. Howard tells Franks it has been rented, relocks the door and yells at Helen for lying to him. Howard orders a crying Helen to the kitchen, refusing to let her answer her phone when it rings repeatedly. In the kitchen, Helen breaks a window and tries to escape, but Howard drags her back to the living room. Just then, some neighborhood children show up at the door with Christmas presents for Helen. To avoid suspicion, Howard forces Helen into the basement, then tells the children that she is sick. As the children are leaving, Helen calls out to one through a window, but he does not hear her. Later, a now tranquil Howard brings Helen up to the living room and proudly shows her how he has trimmed the Christmas tree. Howard then suggests they eat, and while in the kitchen, talks about his loneliness. Taking advantage of his mood, Helen announces that he can have Armstrong's room but says she must tidy it first. Howard follows Helen upstairs and, after donning her husband's army coat, tries to kiss her. Although she pulls away, he accepts the rebuff and thanks her for her kindness. At that moment, Doug, the grocery delivery boy, arrives with her order, and Helen tries to slip him a note. Howard catches her, however, and after sending Doug on his way, stalks her in angry disbelief. She runs upstairs to her room and grabs some scissors, but he disarms her. As he threatens her with the shears, she faints, and he momentarily blacks out. Upon reviving, he assumes Helen is dead and rushes off. Sometime later, Helen awakens and goes downstairs. There, she finds Howard about to leave, having forgotten everything that occurred that day. He returns the key and is on his way out when Mr. Stevens, a telephone repairman, shows up. After insisting that the phone is fine, Helen persuades Stevens to give Howard a lift. Once Howard is safely outside, Helen informs Stevens that Howard is insane and was holding her prisoner. While Helen is showing Stevens the broken kitchen window, Howard returns to retrieve his coat upstairs. Unaware that Howard is inside, Stevens goes to his truck, then frantically reports that Howard is missing. After Stevens drives off to search for Howard, Howard comes down with his coat, startling Helen. To Helen's great relief, Howard is still calm and walks out the door with a gentle goodbye. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.