The Spider (1945) Poster


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Don't watch it for Ann Savage; she's the first to go
bmacv10 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Pretty much the only thing you think while watching The Spider is that it's too bad Ann Savage kissed the dust about seven minutes into it. Playing the enterprising partner of New Orleans private investigator Richard Conte whose attempt at extortion sets the plot in motion, she gives the film an initial jolt of deadly femininity that the rest of the movie sorely needs.

Lovely but less prepossessing Faye Marlowe is the mysterious client who hands Conte a diamond brooch, engaging him to retrieve an envelope. It contains evidence obtained by Savage that Marlowe's missing sister was in fact murdered, but Conte doesn't know this, or the identity of the woman who hired him under a false name. He finds out that she's part of a phony spiritualist act with arachnoid sets and get-ups (hence the movie's title). The sister, who could pass as her twin, was part of the illusion. In order to solve Savage's murder (to name just one), Conte must burrow back to 1940, using old newspaper clippings and hotel registers, to unravel the earlier killing.

Short and plot-laden, The Spider borrows, or steals, piecemeal from earlier successes (a shakedown in Conte's office harks back to Joel Cairo and Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, as does Marlowe's pseudonymous identity). The presence of Conte and Savage (however abbreviated) has led some viewers to chuck this movie under the rubric `film noir;' that may be stretching things. (The New Orleans locales stay strictly generic, which is a shame, as it may be the only such film set in The Big Easy, unless the even more dubious Glory Alley is admitted.) The Spider is an entertaining enough crime programmer that even a second scene spotlighting Savage would have helped mightily.
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A decent way to spend an hour
XhcnoirX7 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Private eye Richard Conte gets asked by Faye Marlowe to pick up an envelope for her, in exchange for a brooch and a $50 bill for Conte. Suspicious as he is, the money is too good to pass up. The person with the envelope is his business partner Ann Savage, who's doing some blackmailing on the side. They meet up in Conte's apartment for the exchange, but Savage ends up dead, strangled. To avoid trouble, Conte and his friend Mantan Moreland drag the body back to Savage's apartment, after which Conte starts digging. He finds out Marlowe is working under a different name in a mindreading act with Kurt Kreuger, and that their manager Martin Kosleck is also really eager to retrieve the contents of the envelope. But Conte also has to be careful, as the police see him as the #1 suspect in Savage's murder.

This was the first starring role for one of the greats of noir Richard Conte ('Thieves' Highway', 'The Big Combo'), and he is solid as always, altho slightly more energetic/bubbly than his usual more restrained/intense self. Ann Savage's ('Detour') screen time amounts to under 2 minutes, she has 1 scene with Conte before she gets strangled. Marlowe ('Hangover Square') is good as the lady who is not quite who she seems at first, but she's no femme fatale either.

Director Robert Webb (Elvis Presley's 'Love Me Tender'!) and DoP Glen MacWilliams (Hitchock's 'Lifeboat', 'Shock') infuse the movie with some nicely done noir visuals, but the story is rather linear and straight-forward, with very few surprises or twists. In fact, the movie seems cobbled together from elements of more well- known/successful private eye movies like 'The Maltese Falcon' and such. This programmer was never meant to become a classic, but it's a nice time-waster. 6/10
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