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George Grodman is fired from his job as superintendent of Scotland Yard after he mistakenly convicts and executes an innocent man. Grodman's replacement, Buckley, is an arrogant man who boasts to Grodman about his superior detective skills. In an effort to both correct his mistake and get back at the pompous new superintendent, Grodman plots "the perfect crime." It all goes according to plan until an innocent friend is wrongfully accused of the crime.
The Verdict (1946) was the eighth and final film teaming Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Greenstreet plays former Scotland Yard superintendent Grodman while Lorre plays Victor Emmric, an artist and friend of Grodman's. The two men formed an unlikely and often eerie duo. Greenstreet was a large man, weighing nearly 300 pounds, and his size contrasted sharply with the much smaller Lorre. They were often cast in mysterious or sinister roles. The first film teaming the odd couple was The Maltese Falcon (1941), which was also Greenstreet's film debut.
The Verdict is the second film to be based on the novel The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill. In 1944, Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film from RKO for a reported $13,500 with the intention of casting Greenstreet and Lorre. The duo also starred together in Casablanca (1942), Passage to Marseille (1944), and The Mask of Dimitrios (1944).
The Verdict also marked the beginning of Don Siegel's career as a director. Siegel had worked for Warner Bros. for years, but this was his first time directing a feature film. He started out with Warner Bros. as an assistant film librarian and worked his way to the head of the montage department, where he shot transition sequences for Casablanca. Siegel also directed several short films. Two of these short features won Academy Awards. After The Verdict, Siegel went on to direct such films as Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Madigan (1968), Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape from Alcatraz (1979). In American Directors, Jean Pierre Coursodon points out a connection between the main character in The Verdict and those in Siegel's later films: "Grodman is a prototype for Siegel's Madigan and Harry, cops who take the law into their own hands."
Siegel directed Clint Eastwood in a total of five films. Over the years Siegel became not only a friend to Eastwood, but also a mentor to the young director. When Eastwood directed his first film, Play Misty for Me (1971), he asked Siegel to play the role of a bartender in the film. Eastwood dedicated his 1992 film Unforgiven to Siegel, who had died the previous year.
Producer: William Jacobs
Director: Don Siegel
Screenplay: Peter Milne. Based on the novel by Israel Zangwill.
Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Editor: Thomas Reilly
Art Director: Ted Smith
Music: Frederick Hollander
Principal Cast: Sydney Greenstreet (Supt. George Edward Grodman), Peter Lorre (Victor Emmric), Joan Lorring (Lottie Lawson), George Coulouris (Supt. John R. Buckley), Paul Cavanagh (Clive Russell), Arthur Shields (Reverend Holbrook), Ian Wolfe (Jury Foreman).
By Deborah Looney