Despite a sextet of name players, Ruthless is a victim of cliched and outmoded direction and of weary dialog to which no actor could do justice.
Practically the entire yarn stems from the mental reflections of Louis Hayward, one-time partner of powerful financier Zachary Scott. Early sequences show how Scott moved from a poor environment to a position of prestige and wealth by a ‘what-makes-Zachary-run’ technique. Picture boils down to a character study of Scott.
Performances are handicapped by the direction of Edgar G. Ulmer. Adaptation from the Dayton Stoddart novel, Prelude to Night, is involved and confusing. Plot’s denouement is also telegraphed long before the finale.
Hayward contribs a fair interpretation of Scott’s associate, who eventually breaks from him. Diana Lynn, in a dual role, is wistful and appealing as a pawn in Scott’s affections. Sydney Greenstreet, cast as a utilities magnate who’s ousted by Scott, tends to overact.