It’s all in the writing. The Third Voice could have been better. It had a good premise -revenge , and a good trio playing the leads -EDMOND O’BRIEN, LARAINE DAY and JULIE LONDON .
Yet it didn’t quite work.
O’Brien is in practically every scene and he chews up the scenery as only he can. And we never learn his character’s name.
He’s employed by Marion Forbes (Laraine Day) to impersonate her rich businessman boss ,Harry Chapman who has thrown her over for a younger model. Marion also feels she deserves a large pay off ($250,000) as she reckons she was the brains of the organisation.
She teaches O’Brien everything he needs to know about the man he will impersonate including details of the new girlfriend called Frances.
Marion follows her boss to Mexico where he is on a fishing trip,having left his new girlfriend behind. So it isn’t too difficult for O’Brien , with a few physical changes and a suitably loud,gruff voice to take over, especially when Day calmly shoots Chapman dead and O’Brien gets rid of the body.
Marian returns to the States while O’Brien makes phone calls home to the girlfriend and to his subordinates . The plan is that he gets the money transferred to the local bank, saying it’s for an investment.
While waiting for the money, he meets Corey (Julie London) and spends time with her.
There are a few scary moments for him, one being when a couple ,who know the real Chapman , hear he is in town and try to see him. The way he avoids them is suspensefully done.
There is quite a lot of voice-over as O’Brien reminds himself how to act and talk as Chapman. O’Brien is the third voice of the title.
There’s a twist at the end which is unexpected ( by me anyway) and provides an appropriate retribution for O’Brien and Day.
On the negative side, Laraine Day is missing through the middle of the film. As the main instigator of the plot, I didn’t understand why she disappeared for much of the film.
It was a change to see the usually wholesome Ms Day take on the role of the embittered woman who plans and executes murder.
We are never told how Marion met up with the O’Brien character. A few minutes spent on that back story would have been useful.
Julie London has little to do which is a shame, but her character is important to the plot.
Olga San Juan ( who was married in the 40s to Edmond O’Brien ) has one brief scene which could easily have been cut.
The film was made in CinemaScope. I don’t know why. It’s a small scale film which, under another writer, could have made more of an impact. It would also have been sharper if the running time was shorter by about 15 minutes.