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HUBERT CORNFIELD DIRECTS EDMOND O'BRIEN IN 'THE 3RD VOICE'

Title: The 3rd Voice Year: 1960 Rating: ***1/2

Before THE NIGHT AND THE FOLLOWING DAY, the infamous Neo Noir with a troubled production and problems with star Marlon Brando that ended the Hollywood career of director Hubert Cornfield, it's important to go back and see how Cornfield made his few genuine film noir vehicles, or in this case, post noir, the period before anyone knew exactly what noir was to realize it had ended...

Enter THE 3RD VOICE, a B&W thriller (produced by Maury Dexter) that plays out like one right up to the casting of Edmond O'Brien as a hired con artist who works very hard to impersonate the voice of a blowhard rich man, hired by his disgruntled secretary, another veteran in an effectively sassy, snarky Lorraine Day, and the set-up about O'Brien learning the man's voice and dealings is covered with more expository polish than the rest of an intriguing yet sporadically unfocused thriller... 

Taking place in Mexico, where O'Brien, now solo, maintains the impersonation, mostly during a string of nervous phone calls (that include Noirish self-narration), and where the typical human "close call" occurs, almost meeting one of the real man's old friends. And it's all suspenseful enough. But how exactly he's decided to get all the money (as the actual con plays out) is confusing... Yet everything becomes more clear when the big twist is revealed, and it's a pretty damn good one. But besides sexy ingenue Julie London and the well-shot wheeling & dealing, this is Edmond O'Brien's energetic one-man-show, playing the hell out of two people at once!

Poster art for THE 3RD VOICE with Edmond O'Brien
Edmond O'Brien in THE 3RD VOICE
Julie London in THE 3RD VOICE
Edmond O'Brien in THE 3RD VOICE with Laraine Day
Edmond O'Brien in THE 3RD VOICE
Edmond O'Brien in THE 3RD VOICE with Julie London

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