Heiress Kimberley Prescott (Anne Baxter) has recently suffered the suicide of her diamond mine-owning millionaire father, and has retreated to the family villa in Barcelona. However, one night she has another shock: her racing driver brother Ward (Richard Todd) appears from the shadows in the garden. Kimberley is taken aback because Ward is supposed to be dead, having been killed in a car crash in South Africa, but this man can be very persuasive, even if the only person he can't convice is Kimberley...
The reputation of Chase a Crooked Shadow rests solely on its twist ending, which you'll either think is very clever and just the right way to bring events to a close, or completely ridiculous and throwing up all sorts of questions that sabotage any logic the film might have enjoyed up until then. Scripted by David D. Osborn and Charles Sinclair, it all remains fairly suspenseful throughout, although the story set up means that the cast can only put in one note performances.
So Baxter is a nervous wreck from her first scene to her last because she can't make anyone believe that Ward's admittedly suspicious alibi must be false. And Todd essays a suave menace but has no chance to change his tune, claiming that he has been in a coma for the past year, although not why Kimberley managed to identify the body (who was buried then?) or why no one thought to notify any of his friends and relations that he was still alive for that length of time.
As you can see, the plot takes some swallowing, and director Michael Anderson can't do much with the sundrenched Spanish coast to drum up tension. Kimberley goes to the police, and Inspector Vargas (Herbert Lom, British film's Continental European of choice for the day) takes up the case, growing intrigued when the panicky woman admits that there is a cache of diamonds that she stole from her father's company and she thinks that Ward and his little gang are after them.
Chase a Crooked Shadow might have made a decent enough stage play with a measure of adapting, and that's about the level of it: undemanding entertainment, but capturing the attention. I can't imagine anyone watching it twice, unless it was to see how the final revelation worked out through the rest of the film, but there are strong hints throughout that Ward is not who he seems anyway. That said, it's nothing short of professional and if you're idea of relaxation is to settle down on a Sunday night with a mystery thriller, then it should satisfy. Me, I find it too unbelievable by the end. Music by Matyas Seiber, which keeps threatening to turn into Una Paloma Blanca.
[Optimum's Region 2 DVD has no extras, but fans of this kind of thing will want to pick it up.]