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The Naked Edge is a 1961 thriller film starring Gary Cooper (in his final film role) and Deborah Kerr. The film was a British-American co-production distributed by United Artists, directed by Michael Anderson and produced by George Glass and Walter Seltzer, with Marlon Brando Sr. as executive producer. The screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano (adapted from Max Ehrlich's 1955 novel First Train to Babylon), the musical score was composed by William Alwyn, the cinematography was handled by Erwin Hillier and Tony White, and the production designer was Carmen Dillon.
|The Naked Edge|
|Directed by||Michael Anderson|
|Screenplay by||Joseph Stefano|
|Based on||First Train to Babylon|
by Max Ehrlich
|Produced by||George Glass|
Marlon Brando Sr. (executive producer)
|Edited by||Gordon Pilkington|
|Music by||William Alwyn|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$6 million (rentals) or $2.25 million|
In the aftermath of a theft and murder, Martha Radcliffe increasingly suspects her husband George Radcliffe, whose testimony in court convicted the main suspect, of being the real culprit.
Businessman Jason Root is stabbed to death on a night when George and a clerk named Donald Heath are the only other employees working at the office. A mailbag full of money is stolen in the process. George sees Heath in the boiler room when he runs after the murderer right after he hears Root crying after being stabbed; George, who is seen sweating nervously both during the trial and later, insists that Heath must have been the murderer, and Heath is convicted. Several years later, a lost mailbag is found and the Radcliffes receive a long-delayed letter that was in the bag. The letter, which Martha reads, contains a blackmail threat from Jeremy Clay accusing George of the crime.
As the story unfolds, clues pointing to George quickly accumulate. These include a new business he started soon after the trial, using money that he claims to have made in the stock market; his own desperate desire for success; lying to his wife in order to secretly search for Clay; the suspicious new business with an unknown man, Morris Brooke, right after the trial; and Clay's claim, when Martha finds him, that he was an eyewitness to the crime and George was the murderer.
George and Martha repeatedly have conversations in which she vacillates between questioning him and insisting she believes in his innocence, and he alternates between insisting that she believe in him and telling her to make up her own mind. Tension is built by the repeated appearance of George's old-style shaving razor, his insistence that Martha join him at the edge of a cliff, references to his masculine virility and his warning that Martha's investigation could threaten his business.
At the conclusion, Clay tries to kill Martha after being seen sharpening George's razor. George rescues his wife just in time and subdues Clay as the police arrive.
- Gary Cooper as George Radcliffe
- Deborah Kerr as Martha Radcliffe
- Eric Portman as Jeremy Clay
- Ray McAnally as Donald Heath
- Diane Cilento as Mrs. Heath
- Hermione Gingold as Lilly Harris
- Peter Cushing as Mr. Evan Wrack
- Michael Wilding as Morris Brooke
- Ronald Howard as Mr. Claridge
- Sandor Elès as Manfridi St John
- Wilfrid Lawson as Mr. Pom
- Helen Cherry as Miss Osborne
- Joyce Carey as Victoria Hicks
- Diane Clare as Betty
- Frederick Leister as Judge
- Martin Boddey as Jason Roote
- Peter Wayn as Chauffeur
Critic reception edit
In the New York Times, Bosley Crowther dismissed the film as "manufactured tension of the plainest sort, worked up with illogical twists and tricks of photography and cutting by which director Michael Anderson has apparently hoped to heighten the melodramatic mood. It also has a good cast, in addition to Mr. Cooper and Miss Kerr — Eric Portman, Michael Wilding, Hermione Gingold, Diane Cilento and even Wilfred Lawson and Joyce Carey in bit roles. But it is pure claptrap entertainment—a piece of cheese, as we say, full of holes. And it is sad to see poor old Coop in it. Well, we can remember him for many better things." Variety noted, "the picture that winds up Gary Cooper’s long list of credits is a neatly constructed, thoroughly professional little suspense meller."
Box office edit
- "Coop's Last Take". Variety. February 14, 1962. p. 11.
- "1961 Rentals and Potential". Variety. 10 Jan 1961. p. 58.
- "The Naked Edge (1961) - Overview - TCM.com".
- "The Naked Edge (1961)". Archived from the original on September 18, 2016.
- "The Naked Edge (1961) - Misc Notes - TCM.com".
- "Movie Reviews". The New York Times. 3 November 2021.
- Variety Staff (1 January 1961). "Review: 'The Naked Edge'".