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Another Man's Poison
Another Man's Poison

Directed by: Irving Rapper

Screenplay by: Val Guest

Cast:

  • Bette Davis as Janet Frobisher
  • Gary Merrill as George Bates
  • Emlyn Williams as Dr. Henderson
  • Anthony Steel as Larry Stevens
  • Barbara Murray as Chris Dale
  • Reginald Beckwith as Mr. Bigley
  • Edna Morris as Mrs. Bunting

Tagline: “She Had Everything You Could Give A Woman To Torment A Man!”

Another Man's Poison is a 1951 British cinematic drama directed by Irving Rapper and starring Bette Davis, Gary Merrill and Emlyn Williams. The screenplay by Val Guest was based on the play Deadlock by Leslie Sands.

The Plot

Successful mystery novelist Janet Frobisher, who has been separated for years from her husband, a man with a criminal past, lives in an isolated home in England. Her nearest neighbor is nosy veterinarian Dr. Henderson. Janet has fallen in love with and sometimes dabbles with her secretary Chris's fiancé, Larry, who is years younger than she. When her estranged husband shows up without warning, Janet poisons him with horse medication given to her by a neighbor. One of the deceased man's criminal cohorts then shows up as she's making preparations to dispose of the body in a nearby lake. When Frobisher's secretary and Larry arrive at the secluded house, the mysterious man, who has providentially aided her in her scheme, impersonates Janet's long-absent spouse. But she's also plotting to get rid of him.

Making Of

Of the project, star Bette Davis remembered, "We had nothing but script trouble. Gary [Merrill] and I often wondered why we agreed to make this film after we got started working on it. Emlyn [Williams] rewrote many scenes for us, which gave it some plausibility, but we never cured the basic ills of the story."

This was the second on-screen pairing of Davis and Gary Merrill, following All About Eve the previous year.

Rapper, who was selected by Davis to helm the film, had directed her in Now, Voyager in 1941.

Co-star and script doctor Emlyn Williams wrote the original play on which Davis' 1945 film The Corn Is Green was based.

Exteriors of the United Artists release were filmed in Malham, North Yorkshire. Interiors were shot at the Nettlefold Studios in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.

The Critics

The New York Times described the film as "a garrulous but occasionally interesting excursion into murder and unrequited love... the script... is basically a static affair that rarely escapes from its sets or the scenarist's verbosity. Suspense is only fitfully generated and then quickly dissipated... Gary Merrill contributes a thoroughly seasoned and convincing portrayal... Emlyn Williams adds a professionally polished characterization... and Anthony Steel and Barbara Murray are adequate... However, Another Man's Poison is strictly Bette Davis' meat. She is permitted a wide latitude of histrionics in delineating the designing neurotic who is as flinty a killer as any we've seen in the recent past."

In his review in New Statesman and Nation, Frank Hauser wrote: "No one has ever accused Bette Davis of failing to rise to a good script; what this film shows is how far she can go to meet a bad one."

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