The Tattered Dress

The Tattered Dress is a 1957 CinemaScope film noir crime film directed by Jack Arnold and starring Jeff Chandler, Jeanne Crain, Jack Carson, Gail Russell and Elaine Stewart.[2]

The Tattered Dress
Directed byJack Arnold
Produced byAlbert Zugsmith
Written byGeorge Zuckerman
StarringJeff Chandler
Jeanne Crain
Jack Carson
Gail Russell
Elaine Stewart
Music byFrank Skinner
CinematographyCarl E. Guthrie
Edited byEdward Curtiss
Distributed byUniversal-International Pictures
Release date
  • March 14, 1957 (1957-03-14) (New York City)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.43 million (US rentals)[1]


In a California resort community, the wealthy Michael Reston is charged with the murder of a man he claimed attacked his wife, Charleen.

Reston hires a high-priced lawyer, James Gordon Blane, a man known to do anything it takes to win a case. Blane makes few friends in the community because the victim was a popular figure while the Restons are not popular with anyone. But his skillful cross-examination of a sheriff, Nick Hoak, results in Blane's client being found not guilty.

Hoak decides to get even. He claims to have evidence that Blane bribed a woman on the jury. Now it is Blane who goes on trial, with only his estranged wife, Diane, coming to his aid. While defending himself, Blane begins to feel remorse over having won acquittals for so many guilty clients.

Blane ultimately is vindicated when the juror, Carol Morrow, turns out to be romantically involved with Hoak, the sheriff. Enraged by the outcome, the sheriff watches Blane going down the Court-House steps. Standing in the shadows he draws his gun intent on murdering Blane in cold blood. He is stopped when Morrow gets some revenge of her own by shooting him. As she is arrested for her actions, the Blanes reconcile and leave town for good.



Chandler's casting was announced in June 1956.[3] Zugsmith later recalled Chandler "was becoming a bit difficult and he was their second biggest star at the time. I guess one of the reasons was he was their biggest and then Rock Hudson came along!"[4]

Filming started on August 13, 1956.[5] Shooting took place in Palm Springs.[6]


The Los Angeles Times said that Chandler "does the best acting job of his career" in the film.[7]

Vietnam War Connection

On July 8th, 1959, while watching The Tattered Dress, five US Army officers became the first American casualties of the Vietnam War.

The Viet Cong attacked the mess hall where Dale R. Buis, Chester M. Ovnand and three other officers were watching the movie. M/Sgt Ovnand, who was in charge of the projector, switched on the lights to change to the next reel, when Viet Cong guerrillas poked their weapons through the windows and sprayed the room with automatic weapons fire. M/Sgt Ovnand was hit with several 9mm rounds. He immediately switched the lights off and headed to the top of the stairs, where he was able to turn on the exterior flood lights. He died from his wounds on the stairs. Major Buis, at that time, was crawling towards the kitchen doors. When the exterior flood lights came on, he must have seen an attacker coming through the kitchen doors. He got up and rushed towards attacker, but was only able to cover 15 feet (4.6 m) before being fatally hit from behind. His actions startled the attacker who was about to throw his satchel charge through the door. The attacker's satchel charge had already been activated and his moment of hesitation allowed the satchel charge to explode, killing him. Two South Vietnamese guards that were on duty that night were also killed by the Viet Cong. The wounded were, Captain Howard Boston (MAAG 7) and the Vietnamese cook's eight-year-old son.

See also


  1. "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30.
  2. The Tattered Dress at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  3. Oscar Godbout (July 17, 1956). "Warwick To Make 2 Films In Africa: Company Plans Productions of 'Adamson of Africa' and 'Golden City,' a Musical M-G-M Misses One of Four". The New York Times.
  4. Flynn, Charles; McCarthy, Todd (1975). "Albert Zugmsith". In Flynn, Charles; McCarthy, Todd (eds.). Kings of the Bs : working within the Hollywood system : an anthology of film history and criticism. E. P. Dutton. p. 417.
  5. Thomas M. Pryor (July 25, 1956). "Warners Readies Incentives Policy: Stockholders to Vote on Film Company Plan to Grant Options to Executives M-G-M in Full Swing Of Local Origin". The New York Times.
  6. Dorothy Manners (August 19, 1956). "It's Matter Of Degrees -- 113 Of Them". The Washington Post and Times Herald.
  7. Philip K. Scheuer (March 3, 1957). "'Tattered Dress' Chandler's Best". Los Angeles Times.
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