- Davis & Merrill Duo Star in their Own Home 1/26/2008 12:00:00 AM by mdg55
It's fascinating to watch the wife and husband duo go at each other playing anything but a loving married couple. What makes this, of all of Bette Davis' movies rich is that the set is her own home; and, what a place it is. Not a palace, but a very British type of country home.
Davis' & Merrill's acting is superb; the plot is thick; the script worthy of Davis' fantastic articulation & conveyance of attitudes contrary enough to part the Red Sea.
Everyone's got their favorite Bette Davis film, if they're a fan of the US classics from Warner Bros.. Mine is this "Poison...," because it's the 4th time the dynamic duo act together but the first time they both have leading roles; it's filmed in their own home which reveals so much about Davis' tastes & I could feel her comfort with the set; the mystery.crime.drama is unsettling; and to the end, I watched wondering how Davis would get out of the ugly situation in which Merrill's held her.
There's something very different about this movie because Davis put on the production herself outside of a domineering studio. Considering the year & women's social inferiority in the workplace, even in Hollywood, it's remarkable that Davis pulled "Poison..." off so well.
- Marital Masquerade 4/22/2012 12:00:00 AM by bkoganbing
Real life married couple Bette Davis and Gary Merrill went to the United Kingdom to do this feature film based on a play by Leslie Sands. Another Man's Poison had no run on Broadway so I had no cast in which to compare the movie cast with. I would dearly have loved to know who the original British cast was, that would prove interesting.
With her clipped New England speech, Bette Davis like Katharine Hepburn had no trouble doing occasional English roles, Davis in fact did the best of them all, their good Queen Elizabeth on two occasions. Here she's something less than a Queen, she's a willful manipulator of people and events something I'm guessing she picked up in her profession as an Agatha Christie type mystery writer.
Before the events of the film start we learn that Bette is estranged from her husband whom none of the villagers in the small hamlet in the United Kingdom have met. She says he's in Malaya growing rubber on a plantation, but in fact he's a bank robber and he came there looking for her to give him shelter and a hideout. Instead because she's got big eyes for Anthony Steel, the fiancé of her secretary Barbara Murray she kills her husband and hides the body.
When to start the action in walks Gary Merrill her husband's accomplice in the robbery and also a wanted man. When the local veterinarian Emlyn Williams comes to call Merrill pretends he's long lost husband and Davis backs him up.
Which starts a relationship of convenience for both Davis and Merrill both stuck with each other, but both needing each other to some degree. But with Bette manipulating to trap Steel at the same time the whole situation just simmers to a boil in the end.
Best in the cast is Emlyn Williams. His veterinarian comes over like a country bumpkin, but he's really quite astute, almost like a rural English Columbo. Over here they would have the veterinarian the lead in a television series.
Not top drawer Bette Davis, but in fact her bravura acting style carries this film over some rough patches. Another, a lesser actress might have not done as much with the material, but Bette Davis certainly could and did.
- Recommend for tight structure 2/5/2006 12:00:00 AM by Builders
I appreciate this terse movie's smart script, staging, and tight editing, especially upon second viewing. Of course the nosy neighbor veterinarian serves mainly as a plot vehicle, but the role is well acted. Gary Merrill's George Bates seems lacking some refinement of expression. He plays it like an open book, and makes Bates a totally sympathetic character. The story hinges on the power plays between Bates and devious Janet as, chained together by their crimes, they struggle for the upper hand via her scheming and his brute force. Their tortured relationship could have a plausible chance for success, given the plot circumstances, but the secretary's fiancé Larry is in the way, creating a tension that draws the characters to the unhappy climax. Davis is in good form, and this is an entertaining film.
Since there is a finite number of Bette Davis films available for viewing in 2006, one has to value each for what it is. Although "Poison" may not be in her top 10, Davis is the master, and it is infinitely preferable to experience it than not.
- A good Bette Davis vehicle 8/12/2000 12:00:00 AM by stills-6
Another in a long line of Davis' deliciously evil roles. This film has the same feel as "The Little Foxes", but with a bit more scenery chewing. I was a little puzzled as to some of the plot developments, but on the whole such things don't mean much when you're watching Davis and Merrill try to outmaneuver each other.
I didn't care much for the rest of the cast, but what does it matter? Davis makes it a very satisfying experience.
- The dark recesses of the female mind. 5/8/2014 12:00:00 AM by Spikeopath
Another Man's Poison is directed by Irving Rapper and adapted to screenplay by Val Guest from the play "Deadlock" written by Leslie Sands. It stars Bette Davis, Gary Merrill, Emlyn Williams, Anthony Steel and Barbara Murray. Music is by John Greenwood and Paul Sawtell and cinematography by Robert Krasker.
A whole bunch of fun if expectation levels are correctly set. Another Man's Poison is essentially a one set piece (confirming its stage origins), with primary focus on just five people and a horse. It's a tale of murder, deception and carnal desires, the latter of which is wrung out via Janet Frobisher's (Davis) affair with a much younger man who happens to be the intended of her secretary.
Frobisher is quite frankly a bitch, something which Davis attacks with relish and no little amount of histrionic camp. She's the fulcrum of the story, but all the other key characters here are either stupid, ignorant, devious or all three in one go! Oh yes, this is a regular hot- bed of people you really wouldn't want to be hanging around with for long.
It's these characterisations that along with Krasker's photography just about earns the pic its film noir badge. The script isn't up to much - where stories about changes being made by Williams and Davis and Merrill (hubbie and wife) being unhappy – are common place, but it never outstays its welcome by being boring and Bette being batty is always good entertainment. 6.5/10