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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

BEHIND LOCKED DOORS (1948)


Before finding his niche in a superb series of concise Randolph Scott budget-Westerns, Budd Boetticher ground out formula ‘Bs’ like this little detective story. Lucille Bremer stars as a reporter who thinks she’s found a corrupt judge who’s hiding in a posh local sanitarium. She bats her eyes just enough to get Richard Carlson’s appealing gumshoe to play psycho for her, get himself committed and find out what’s going on. (Just like Samuel Fuller’s SHOCK CORRIDOR/’63!) Boetticher’s best work relied on real outdoor locations to reveal character traits & motivation. He was a natural for the wide CinemaScope frame. In this studio-bound piece, he’s cramped, unable to trigger the claustrophobic elements in the plot. Still, it’s fun to see Bremer in crisp B&W lensing without all the M-G-M fuss & glamour. The story goes that her ‘mentor’ @ M-G-M, producer Arthur Freed, had ‘moved on.’ She would too as this was her last picture. Under the circumstances, she’s darn good.

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