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They Won't Believe Me

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They Won't Believe Me
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIrving Pichel
Produced byJoan Harrison
Screenplay byJonathan Latimer
Story byGordon McDonell
StarringRobert Young
Susan Hayward
Jane Greer
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyHarry J. Wild
Edited byElmo Williams
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • July 16, 1947 (1947-07-16) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes; 80 minutes (re-issue)
CountryUnited States

They Won't Believe Me is a 1947 black-and-white film noir directed by Irving Pichel and starring Robert Young, Susan Hayward and Jane Greer. It was produced by Alfred Hitchcock's longtime assistant and collaborator, Joan Harrison.


After the prosecution rests its case in the murder trial of Larry Ballentine (Robert Young), the defendant takes the stand to tell his story.

In flashback, Larry recounts how he started seeing Janice Bell (Jane Greer), innocently enough, but feelings developed between them. Unwilling to break up his marriage to Greta (Rita Johnson), whom Larry had married for her money, Janice gets a job transfer. Larry agrees to run off with her. When he returns home, however, Greta is unwilling to give him up. She tells him she has purchased half-interest in a brokerage in Los Angeles for him. The temptation is too great, and Larry leaves with Greta without telling Janice goodbye.

At the brokerage, Larry once again begins womanizing. One day he is reprimanded by his business partner, Trenton (Tom Powers), for neglecting a rich client. Appearing to be acting on Larry’s behalf, employee Verna Carlson (Susan Hayward) produces a copy of a letter supposedly mailed by Larry to the client the day before, but actually written by her and sent special delivery that day. Larry resists becoming romantically entangled again, particularly with someone already engaged in a relationship with Trenton who brazenly admits she is a golddigger, but Verna seduces him. Late one night, Larry comes home and is confronted by Greta. She tells him that she is finished with him, but will not divorce him. She has sold the brokerage interest and bought an old Spanish ranch in the mountains. She again tells him to choose, and once again he elects to go with her.

The ranch is isolated, without phone or mail service. The closest settlement is a general store down the road. Larry is bored, but Greta loves it there. After some time she tells Larry that she wants to build a guest house for an aunt he despises, who reviles him in return. He claims that he knows an architect who can do the job, and on the pretext of calling him phones Verna and arranges to meet her in Los Angeles.

Larry describes to her his plan to clean out a joint checking account with Greta and run away together. He writes a check for $25,000 that Verna is to cash at the brokerage and leaves a note for his wife declaring he has left and suggesting she get a divorce. After their rendezvous, Verna produces the uncashed check, forcing Larry to choose between a penniless future with her or another return to Greta. Larry tears it up. She has also bought herself a cheap wedding ring, inducing him to follow through on his promise to divorce Greta and marry her. As they drive to Reno that night an oncoming truck blows a tire and swerves into their path. Verna is killed and burned beyond recognition. Larry wakes up in the hospital, where he is consoled over his wife's death. The police have mistakenly identified her as Greta because of the wedding ring. He does not correct the error.

Once he recovers, he returns to the ranch, planning to kill Greta for her money. He finds his farewell note at the top of a cliff and her body beneath it by a waterfall, her favorite spot. He dumps the corpse in the rushing river.

Depressed but still in the clear, Larry tours South America and the Caribbean to unsuccessfully try to cheer himself up. In Jamaica, he runs into Janice. He persuades her to reconcile, and they return to Los Angeles together. Later, early for an engagement with her at her hotel, he sees Trenton go into her room. He eavesdrops through an open window and discovers that Trenton has become concerned about Verna's disappearance and enticed Janice to work with him.

Ultimately dared by Larry, Trenton eventually calls in the police. Lieutenant Carr obtains a search warrant. They find Greta's body, but assume it is Verna's. Local storekeeper Thomason (Don Beddoe) is a witness to Larry and Verna driving away together, the last time she was seen. The police theorize that Larry killed her because she was blackmailing him.

While the jury deliberates, Larry is visited by Janice, whose love for him has revived. He informs her that he has passed judgment on himself for his actions. Back in court, just before the jury's verdict is delivered, he rushes to the window to commit suicide; a fatal shot fells him. The verdict is then read: not guilty .



Dennis Schwartz, in a 2003 review of the film, called the film, "An outstanding film noir melodrama whose adultery tale is much in the same nature as a Hitchcock mystery or James M. Cain's gritty Double Indemnity."[1]

Ted Shen, reviewing the film for the Chicago Reader, also compares the film to Cain's writing and praises the acting, and wrote, "Cast against type, Young manages to be both creepy and sympathetic. Actor-turned-director Irving Pichel gets hard-boiled performances from a solid cast."[2]

Critic Steve Press wrote, "The flashback structure of this suspenseful film noir effectively creates a foreboding tension that mounts to a powerful final scene."[3]

In an interview on The Dick Cavett Show aired on September 9, 1968, Robert Young claimed he made one picture in which he played a nasty character, resulting in a box-office flop, They Won’t Believe Me.


  1. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, June 12, 2003. Last accessed: February 21, 2003.
  2. ^ Shen, Ted. The Reader, film review, 2007.
  3. ^ Press, Steve. They Won't Believe Me at AllMovie

External links

This page was last edited on 4 December 2020, at 22:25
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