The Snorkel (1958)

I don’t suppose Jacques Cousteau ever thought his film The Silent World, or at least a poster advertising same, might become a major clue in a murder mystery, but so it is in The Snorkel, the earliest film in the Icons of Suspense set. Curiously the film’s IMDB entry ignores The Silent World completely in its “movie connections” section, preferring to mention far less relevantly that the dog in this film shares its name with Toto from The Wizard of Oz… And to use another cinematic reference point, The Snorkel is kind of like the inverse of Shadow of a Doubt; in the older film the killer is already suspected by the police of his crimes and only gradually suspected by his niece, whereas here the killer’s stepdaughter immediately suspects him of killing her mother (as she’s always suspected him of killing her father years before) and no one else believes her. And not without reason: after all, we the audience may have seen the lengthy pre-credits sequence in which he unleashes his cunning plan to make the murder look like suicide in classic locked-room mystery fashion, but the other characters haven’t, so young Candy’s loathing of him and repeated insistence that he’s a murderer obviously seems to have a kind of pathological quality. Mandy Miller, only about 13 when she made the film, has a difficult time playing someone who seems variously older and younger than her age; it’s not an easy role and the script doesn’t always help. Plus at 90 minutes it’s probably a bit longer than necessary; the American release cut about 15 minutes from it and I’m not sure that would’ve been a bad thing if it helped tighten the film up some. On the whole, it’s good enough and you’re kept going wondering exactly how the killer will eventually be caught (resulting in a quite chilling climax) but not great.

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