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Saturday, July 29, 2017


Pitch black film noir flirts with self-parody from the start. A Carol Burnett comedy sketch would have toned things down, especially bad-girl Lizabeth Scott’s ’s eye-popping perf. (Asleep she’d be overdoing it.) The setup, as can be seen in our OTT poster, has rocky couple Scott & weirdly understanding hubby Arthur Kennedy taken aback when a passing car pitches a travel bag with sixty-thou in unmarked bills into their backseat. Turn it in or keep it? The rest of the first half plays out like some demented version of Zola’s THÉRÈSE RAQUIN with inimitable sleazebag Dan Duryea showing up to woo Scott (by slapping her around, natch) and reclaim his ill-gotten gains. It’s good/bad fun if you’re in the mood, and happily the level of filmmaking improves halfway along when mystery man/good guy Don DeFore shows up to get to the bottom of things. Director Byron Haskin has a couple of fondly recalled Sci-Fi credits on his C.V., but mostly hackwork, as here. Still, few noirs are quite so diligent at ticking off every box in the genre, so fans of the form (or newbies learning the ropes) with want to dig in.

LINK/ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Attention to the DVD edition since many a subfusc Public Domain disc out there on this title. Look for Flicker Alley who offer a standout restoration.

DOUBLE-BILL: This probably pairs up best with grade-Z noir like Edgar Ulmer’s minimalist DETOUR/’45 or twisty plotted IMPACT/’49.

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