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Steven Kenet, suffering from a recurring brain injury, appears to have strangled his wife. Having confessed, he's committed to an understaffed county asylum full of pathetic inmates. There, Dr. Ann Lorrison is initially skeptical about Kenet's story and reluctance to undergo treatment. But against her better judgement, she begins to doubt his guilt, and endangers her career on a dangerous quest through dark streets awash with rain.
You can sure see the punches coming but a solid performance by Taylor make it watchable but just barely.
A modestly successful psychological drama cum Noir with good supporting performances, and one particularly nifty, snappy scene of a blustering attorney repeatedly misidentifying the doctor - it's the one moment when this movie hits us with snappy dialog, and it's very fun.
High Wall is one of Robert Taylor's most unusual and successful performances. Often stereotyped as the beautiful lover or dashing hero, here Taylor brings depth and complexity to the character of Steven Kenet, a possible murderer. Kenet swings through a wide variety of emotions as his mental state alters and Taylor uses both face and body to render these memorably. The film noir photography and chiaroscuro add to the dramatic effect. Taylor is well supported by Audrey Totter, Herbert Marshall, H. B. Warner and others in this satisfying mystery.
High Wall hinges on whether Robert Taylor deserves a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdict for the murder of his wife. You see, he can't quite remember and he has headaches and blackouts. He feels it is best for his case not to remember, so he avoids the surgery that will correct his brain problem and the "narcosynthesis" that will help him to remember the truth. Audrey Totter is his psychiatrist and wants to help him so badly that she ends up falling in love with him (after getting custody of his son). Although this sounds like melodrama, the screen is so dark, it must be noir. The treatment of psychology (apart from the transference/counter-transference) is interestingly skewed to the biological and away from the usual psychoanalysis of films in this period (like Spellbound).
The plot is satisfying but inconsnequential, but this gets high marks for archetypal noir styling, plus a grim outlook with moments of gallows humor.
Great film noir with outstanding performances by all players.
High Wall is an interesting film. Robert Taylor and Audrey Totter gave excellent performances. The screenplay is well written and has plenty of suspense. Curtis Bernhardt did a great job directing this film. I enjoyed this film because of the mystery. High Wall is a must see.