Dick Powell, the light-tenor juvenile of many a ‘30s Warner Bros. musical, successfully reestablished himself as tough guy/private eye in Edward Dmytryk’s MURDER, MY SWEET/’44 and its even better, goofy follow up, CORNERED/’45.* But this next film casts him as a shady character who runs a high-class gambling joint, and all the usual suspects & troubles he comes up against (dames, murder, gun play, nosy cops) lose the structural backbone the classic P.I. formula supplied. Instead, Powell tries to get by on what might be called his inner Humphrey Bogart and comes up a few tropes short. He gets good support from Evelyn Keyes in one of her stronger perfs as good-girl sister to one of the victims, but much less from scripter Robert Rossen in his directing debut. Paceless and visually inert, the staging & camera set-ups struggle to reach functional, a struggle Rossen never would completely beat. Nervous at the helm, he’s too preoccupied to even tame the already florid acting styles of supporting hams like Thomas Gomez & Lee J. Cobb. And if those two aren't getting your attention . . .
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *Those Dmytryk noirs really hold up, especially the knowing, if lesser known, CORNERED.