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Sunday, August 3, 2014

NIGHT EDITOR (1946)

Janis Carter is a warped knockout as femme fatale in this low-budget police procedural. (The somewhat misleading title comes from a radio anthology show later reused for tv.) Carter’s a rich society type whose hobby is sleeping her way in & out of trouble . . . then getting off on the mess she leaves in her wake. Her main victim is tru-blue police homicide dick William Gargan, a solid-citizen sort with the cute wife, cute kid & sweet little home to prove it. But just now, he’s pulling overnight shifts with the Mistress Carter, and these two are canoodling in the car when they espy another couple also going at it . . . lethally, with deadly intent. Gargan’s filled with guilt ‘cause he let it happen to keep his affair hidden; Carter’s filled with regret ‘cause she didn’t get a look at the girl’s smashed head. Yikes! The plot spins out in a nifty series of twists with good noirish lensing from Burnett Guffey & Philip Tannura, but even as a Grade Z time-filler, too much goes missing under Henry Levin’s pro forma megging. You keep hoping for a bit of style, flair or eccentricity, then have to settle for near competence, while the devilish look in Janis Carter’s eye reminds you what’s missing.

DOUBLE-BILL: Lots of DOUBLE INDEMNITY/’44 in here. Maybe not enough.

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