Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Novelist Tom Garret (Dana Andrews) agrees to help wealthy publisher Austin Spenser (Sidney Blackmer), the father of his fiance, Susan ($Joan Fontaine) to plant evidence that will incriminate Tom in a murder and be sentenced to death, hoping to discredit capital punishment by revealing Tom's innocence. Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, the last American film of Fritz Lang, was made on a low budget, with poor production values and, unusual for Lang, not much visual style. Nevertheless, the film has considerable impact because of the narrative structure and mood and the expertly devised plot, in which the turnabout is both surprising and convincing. The film poses as a rather conventional "plight of an innocent man" story, but is filled with an array of involving, complex subplots and Lang utilizes an odd, but effective editing which focuses on seemingly irrelevant inanimate objects to create an uneasy, almost subliminal uncertainty about surface reality. The plot ending therefore is not so much of a surprise, but rather a shock of insight, that is emotionally and logically convincing.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Douglas Morrow
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 22, 2009
RKO Pictures


Dana Andrews
as Tom Garrett
Joan Fontaine
as Susan Spencer
Sidney Blackmer
as Austin Spencer
Philip Bourneuf
as Roy Thompson
Arthur Franz
as Bob Hale
Shepperd Strudwick
as Jonathan Wilson
Edward Binns
as Lt. Kennedy
Robin Raymond
as Terry Larue
Barbara Nichols
as Dolly Moore
William Leicester
as Charlie Miller
Joyce Taylor
as Joan Williams
Carleton Young
as Allan Kirk
Trudy Wroe
as Hat Check Girl
Joe Kirk
as Clerk
Charles Evans
as Governor
Wendell Niles
as Announcer
Larry Barton
as Customer
Carl Sklover
as Taxi Driver;Photogra...
Jeffrey Sayre
as Foreman of Jury
Eric Wilton
as Clergyman
Benny Burt
as Reporter
Myron Cook
as Reporter
Ralph Volkie
as Photographer
Dorothy Gordon
as Secretary
Joey Ray
as Eddie
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Critic Reviews for Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (4)

Fritz Lang's direction does what it can to inject suspense and interest but the melodrama never really jells.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Lang's most austere film, reducing the characters to pawns arbitrarily shifted in demonstration of a fascinating theorem.

Full Review… | February 3, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

Once he's raised the standard social issues, Lang destroys them all with a shatteringly nihilistic conclusion.

Full Review… | February 3, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

While the purpose may be exemplary, the method the gentlemen employ is highly dubious as a practical exposition. And once it is revealed to prove their point, it should certainly put them in a pickle for conspiring to subvert justice and fool the courts.

Full Review… | February 3, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic

It is a film of great economy and precision (it lasts only 80 minutes), with the terrifying inevitability of Greek tragedy and a pervading sense that man is his own worst enemy.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014

Fritz Lang's last American movie is an edgy study in moral ambiguity.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014
Total Film

Audience Reviews for Beyond a Reasonable Doubt


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt doesn't add up to much more than proof that Fritz Lang's best years were definitely behind him. The premise of an author setting himself up to be framed for murder to prove the fallibility of circumstantial evidence begs for something to go wrong when the only person who can prove his innocence gets killed. Lang set up the plan well enough and the whole period before the too-little-too-late twist at the end kind of dragged, but overall Beyond a Reasonable Doubt was just generally dull. Dana Andrews was just kind of there and watching Joan Fontaine in this movie was like watching off-white paint dry in a Midwestern state. If you're a hardcore Lang fan you may be able to appreciate this movie on some levels but its mostly just a big dull pile of whatever.

Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

Very clever film.

Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

Extremely well done Noir with some great twists. Joan Fontaine's performance has a lot more depth then the typical Noir character (certainly skirt) and she does a great job.

addie -

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