The Big Bluff Film Details
Overview: When a scheming fortune hunter finds his rich wife is not going to die as expected, he and his lover make other plans to get her millions.
Tagline: Revealing! Startling! Searing!
Review: This was directed by Billy Wilder’s brother. They weren’t that close and it shows. Martha Vickers is very ill — a few months, perhaps a year — and has a good deal of money. Without telling her how serious her heart condition is, the doc suggests she take it easy and go to Los Angeles with her friend and companion, Eve Miller. New York City to Los Angeles, to relax. Out of the fire and into the frying pan, as they say. In L.A. they are looked after from time to time by the good doctor Robert Hutton, who is wise to Vicker’s terminal condition. In fact, the only person who doesn’t know is the patient herself. A very neat sociological analysis of “whether or not to tell the patient” was done by Anselm Strauss, whom the NY Times called “the father of medical sociology.” He distinguished between “open” and “closed” awareness, and explored everything in between. Anselm was socially awkward but extremely bright, and a nice, accommodating guy. When he himself was dying of heart failure he continued his seminars at home, lying on his living room couch. (R.I.P.) Anyway, one of the people who is in on the game is the Los Angeles sharpster John Bromfield. He owes everyone money, although he drives what looks like a tinkered-with Jaguar and, salivating over the prospect of getting his hands on her fortune after she gives up the ghost, he takes her to the Scandia restaurant. It was a real restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, very posh, and quite the place to go in the mid-50s, especially if you’re fond of what the menu calls gravelax and everybody else calls “lox”. It subsequently expired of heart failure and an increasingly shabby milieu. Bromfield manages to marry Vickers, then systematically sets about trying to induce a heart attacks — dancing, drinking, smoking, tennis, up long flights of stairs, switching sodium bicarbonate for her meds. Perversely, she seems to be improving. She’s the incarnation of Rasputin, the Mad Monk. Finally Bromfield has to shoot her and arrange the setting to suggest suicide. There’s a big twist at the end — two or three, in fact — but I won’t give the end away. And, listen, I know this review is discursive and meandering but, believe me, it’s at least as entertaining as the movie — granted that’s not saying much. If the expression “B movie” didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent it to describe this flick. As an added treat, the music by Manuel Compinsky is atrocious.
Duration: 71 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller
Also known as: The Big Bluff,Worthy Deceivers