The Tattered Dress After a wild night, wealthy Michael Reston’s adulterous wife Charleen comes home with her ripe young body barely concealed by a dress in rags; murder results. Top defense lawyer J.G. Blane, whose own marriage exists in name only, arrives in Desert View, Nevada to find the townsfolk and politically powerful Sheriff Hoak distinctly hostile to the Restons. In due course, Blane discovers he’s been “taken for a ride,” and that quiet desert communities can be deadly… The story of The Tattered Dress … that exposed a town’s hidden evil
THE TATTERED DRESS has so many fascinating elements within it that it deserves to be elevated to the class of forgotten, but major, works. Jack Arnold’s direction of a potentially overly-melodramatic plot manages to sidestep most of the problems, but it is the acting that is most memorable. The film’s beginning uses Elaine Stewart to enormous advantage. She may have had a short film career, but you could not take your eyes off her when she was on screen (THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, SKY FULL OF MOON, HAJJI BABA, etal). She had quite a bit of talent that never saw stardom, partly because of a dog attack that left her out of the biz for a while. GAIL RUSSELL is superb…totally wonderful… in a supporting role, and the scene in which she breaks down in the courtroom deserved a Nomination. And how splendidly she handles the line about drinking!! JACK CARSON is cagey and sneaky and superbly threatening. In the lead, JEFF CHANDLER, as a lawyer, is always convincing. Low-keyed, you can tell when his character is confronted with an insurmountable problem. JEANNE CRAIN has little to do as his wife, but she is always lovely to watch. Catch this underrated film. It’s worth searching for.