Michael Lambert (Glenn Ford) is a truck driver, but he won’t be for long. He’s just crashed his truck into a car. The car’s owner, Jeff Cunningham (Edgar Buchanan), decides to take Michael to court.
Michael is saved by an unexpected source, a beautiful barmaid named Paula (Janis Carter) who scrimps together the money to pay his bail.
Unfortunately for Michael, Paula’s motives are not pure, and she’ll actually bring him more trouble than Cunningham. After recognizing Michael’s resemblance to the VP of the town bank, Steve Price (Barry Sullivan), Paula decides to use Michael in a plot to con money from Steve’s wife.
Framed was directed by Richard Wallace. The screenplay was written by Ben Maddow from a story by Jack Patrick.
When we meet Glenn Ford’s character of Michael, Ford is his usual tough-guy self, ramming his truck into other vehicles and hitting on waitresses. It’s not an unusual role for the actor, but he sure is a perfect fit for it.
As the film moves along, Michael’s tough exterior proves to be somewhat for show, and the viewer sympathizes with him. All he wants his a good mining gig and a simple life, but Paula so easily pulls the wool over his eyes.
Paula is a fantastic femme fatale, in it for money and money alone. She only made a living as a barmaid for so long because her beau gave her access to a very fancy cabin in which to spend her spare time — an escape from the daily grind.
It’s enough to tide her over, but she’s unsatisfied. She wants the real dough. “You looked like an angel in furs,” Steve tells her in one scene, sentimentally recalling the night they met. “Someone else’s furs,” she retorts, shunning his attempt at romance and keeping her eye on the prize.
Janis Carter’s performance in the role of Paula is pretty great. The character is ridiculously smart, offering up a logical explanation for every doubt Michael throws her way. Ford is a very good actor and turns out reliably strong work here, but Carter really stole the show for me.
Also particularly fascinating to watch are Steve and Paula as a pair. The coldness and excitement with which they discuss their plan is twisted and makes for fantastic viewing. The final outcome of their relationship brings some next-level drama, too.
Framed is a fun, well-paced, and overall well-made crime thriller. Strong performances and a story with plenty of little twists keep the viewer hooked from start to finish. Recommended!