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Saturday, November 24, 2012


There’s a neat gimmick at the center of this film noir*, but Joseph Mankiewicz had just added directing to his long CV as producer/writer, and doesn’t yet have the control to get past the plot holes or integrate the assortment of acting styles he gets from an uneven cast. John Hodiak is merely colorless as the WWII vet, suffering from amnesia and trying to find out who he is, but debuting Nancy Guild, a Veronica Lake/Gene Tierney type, is amateurish as the sweet young thing who believes in him. The rest of the cast (Richard Conte, Lloyd Nolan, a highly theatrical Fritz Kortner) is more colorful, but might as well be in separate pics. The plot, something about a missing briefcase of Nazi cash, isn’t especially clear, but that’s not much of a problem. Spic-n-span plot development isn’t what we need from a noir, just the momentum to get swept up in a cloistered atmosphere of danger, suspense & fatalistic romance. Elements Mankiewicz would put together next year in a different kind of noir, a romantic noir, and his first masterpiece, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR/’47.

DOUBLE-BILL: *Apparently, DARK CITY/’98, a graphic novel adaptation, shares more than the usual noir story components with this title. Follow the IMDb link below for details.  (NOTE - Spoilers in the link message.)

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