When Tiffany from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society invited me to join The Second Annual Claude Rains Blogathon, I was familiar with Claude as an actor. I’ve seen five of his movies, as I reviewed Caesar and Cleopatra back in September. While looking through his filmography on IMDB, I discovered that Claude starred in a film called Twilight of Honor. Because I happened to have this movie on my DVR, I figured it would be a great choice for the blogathon. This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about a courtroom film. Last year, I reviewed two movies from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Darrow Mystery series. What I enjoy about those films is the mystery component featured within the narrative. It creates an intriguing and interactive experience for the audience. Will I find a mystery in Twilight of Honor? Keep reading if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: The overall cast in this film was pretty good! Everyone’s performance appeared believable, especially for their character’s situation. Even though Claude Rains was in the film for a limited amount of time, his portrayal of Art Harper was memorable! He brought a pleasant persona to his character and was a joy to watch on screen. The lead star, Richard Chamberlain, also gave a good acting performance! His character, David Mitchell, had a healthy balance between the seriousness of a lawyer and the charm of a gentleman. That’s because his acting abilities were well-rounded enough to pull off this specific kind of portrayal. The supporting cast was just as talented as the starring cast! Joey Heatherton was a standout in this film as Laura-Mae Brown! With an on-screen personality that was feisty and bold, Joey found a way to shine among her co-stars. Her character certainly brought an interesting element to the story.
The dual screen special effect: Whenever one of the characters shared their perspective on the case, the screen was split to show the flashback on one side of the screen while the character was speaking. After this was shown, the flashback was presented in a full-screen format. This element made the project appear ahead of its time. Because the ‘60s weren’t known for experimentation with technology in film, it makes the creative team behind this movie appear innovative. I respect their decision to try something new. They took a creative risk and it worked in their favor.
The Clinton house: At one point in the movie, David visits the widow of the murder victim, Mrs. Clinton, at her house. Despite this location being featured on screen for a short amount of time, this house looked very appealing on film! The way it was staged and decorated gave the impression that the creative team was going for: the living environment of an affluent family. From the winding staircase to the large door-frame, everything about it spoke volumes about the characters that lived there. It was also just a nice-looking place in general. I’m not sure if this was a real location or a set, but the people associated with bringing this place to life did a good job in doing so.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The run-time: Twilight of Honor is almost two hours. Because of this, it makes the story feel drawn out and some scenes last longer than they need to. One example is some of the courtroom scenes. I understand that court cases in film take time to be explored and discussed. But, personally, I don’t think this particular story needed to be as long as it was. If this movie was an hour and ten or twenty minutes, then the script could have been a little bit tighter and the run-time would be more condensed.
Very little intrigue: When I first heard about this movie, I was expecting the story to have a mystery element. Similar to programs such as Matlock, Perry Mason, and Hallmark’s Darrow Mystery series, I was ready to figure out whodunit. Sadly, that’s not the kind of story Twilight of Honor is. It’s a courtroom drama with a surface level narrative that’s “cut and dry”. Because the story was so basic, I found the final verdict to be anti-climactic. It wasn’t a boring story, but it wasn’t exciting either.
David and Susan’s relationship: I have nothing against David and Susan’s relationship. The issue I have with it is how little emphasis it was given in the film. David and Susan’s relationship feels rushed and under-developed. They are seen spending so little time with each other that when their relationship does progress, it just comes out of nowhere. There’s no build-up to where this relationship ends up. It just seems like it was placed in the movie just for the sake of being there.
My overall impression:
Twilight of Honor is not what I expected it to be. That intriguing, courtroom mystery that I was looking to ended up becoming a straight-forward drama with a simplistic story. Because of that, I found the movie to be just ok. While there were things about it that I liked, the story itself could have been stronger. But that doesn’t mean that the movie is void of purpose. Twilight of Honor does have its place in film history with the use of the dual screen special effect that was featured in the movie. It also gives people a good excuse to watch Claude Rains perform on screen. This isn’t one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, so far. But it’s definitely not one of the worst films I’ve seen either. I’m glad that I saw Twilight of Honor, though, because now I can have an honest opinion about it.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
What do you think of this review? Which movie from Claude Rains’ filmography is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!