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This film is full of surprises, twists and turns. The whodunit theme has the added plus of making the viewer think about big issues like, "what is truth?" The Dangerous Corner is taken when the main characters "spill their guts out" -- telling secrets and hidden feelings that lead only to conflict, hurt and despair. The film supports the theory, "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" -- purporting that the mind can only come up with meager "small truths". The mystery is eventually solved in this innovative, intriguing film. Wonderful Virginia Bruce is on hand to admire, along with dapper Melvyn Douglas, Conrad Nagel and hammy Ian Keith. I've watched this film many times and had great conversations with friends afterwards. Unusual!
Virginia Bruce was a vision of blonde loveliness, who started off at
Paramount in bit parts (lady in waiting to Jeanette MacDonald in "The
Love Parade", one of the chorus girls in "Safety in Numbers") When she
married John Gilbert, strangely her career took off (he was at the end
of his career and sadly almost at the end of his life). "Dangerous
Corner" was made around this time and paired her with Melvyn Douglas.
This is an interesting "what if" film from an intriguing play by J.B. Priestley. The action takes place one night at a dinner party, a year after the suicide of one of the partners in a publishing firm and the theft of some bonds. Gordon (Henry Wadsworth) is tuning the radio when a fuse goes and a game of tell the truth goes horribly wrong.
I found it a fascinating film definitely helped by a superior cast. Not only Virginia Bruce and Melvyn Douglas but Conrad Nagel, with his beautiful speaking voice (he was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Pictures). Erin O'Brien Moore was an underrated actress from the stage who was very memorable as Humphrey Bogart's wife in "Black Legion" (1937). Betty Furness was also good as the sweet young wife, whose life wasn't as happy as everyone thought.
It's amazing how different 1934 looks to us now, on the evidence of this
movie. An ensemble cast of no more than eight, all with speaking parts and
none of them filmed anywhere but the standard three sets. Camera angles
static and rigid, only the occasional pan out when confessions are being
made and these are legion. Clearly this script could not have been filmed
without the invention of cigarettes - they are central to almost every
and crucial to the turn of the plot itself.
The plot is strong and rather typical of J B Priestly in that much of the drama consists of revelations and contradictions. No-one is quite what they seem!
That's the start of a song from HMS Pinafore, and this picture goes on
to prove just that. "Dangerous Corner" is a filmed stage play and is a
fascinating character study of a group of people with skeletons
cascading out of their respective closets. On the surface, it seems one
of their number has committed suicide over some embezzled funds. Please
note that 'on the surface' is the operative term in this engrossing
All concerned turn in good performances and the dialogue ranges from clichéd to the profound to the philosophic, and you can't leave the room or else you'll lose the thread of the story - remember, it's only 65 minutes long and with a lot of plot squeezed in.
This is a timeless parable about human frailty and appetites and layered relationships. Nevertheless, it becomes all the more interesting to consider that it was made in 1934. They think like us, exhibit our own doubts and weaknesses but all are in evening clothes and smoke and drink at all hours, all of which gives the proceedings a surreal feel, that we are eavesdropping on a living museum scene. You think of how alien such a lifestyle seems today.
"Dangerous Corner" turned up on TCM the other morning and is not available in any format. If it comes on again, you should do yourself a favor and watch it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is a breath of fresh air compared to other films released
immediately after the production code went into effect. It manages to
retain a realistic depiction of human behavior without actually
breaking the code.
The film has to do with five young people working at a publishing concern. They are apparently good friends on top of everything else. Ann (Virginia Bruce) is "burning the publishing business at both ends" and has a frustrated and long term suitor in the person of Charles (Melvyn Douglas). Two of the other members of the firm are married, the final member of the firm, Martin, is unseen except in flash-back and is single. One of the members of the firm (Conrad Nagel as Chatfield) has forgotten his anniversary, and the other guys help him out by arranging a party at the office for the couple. While everyone is celebrating a call comes in to cash a government bond that is being held in the office safe. Chatfield asks Charles to get the bond from the safe. Charles opens the safe and declares that the bond is missing. Everyone at the party denies knowing what happened to the money and all four men who worked in the office had keys to the safe. Only Martin is not at the office that day, and Charles drives out to talk with him about the matter the next morning. When Charles arrives at Martin's house he finds him dead from a gunshot wound, ruled a suicide by an inquest. Everyone thus assumes Martin stole the money.
A year passes and the young people running the publishing concern along with their wives are having another party. A tube in the radio burns out and there is no spare. The conversation then turns to Martin and the events of the year before. Confession follows confession as a true picture of what really happened comes together and friendships and marriages are smashed. We're then told via title card that what we just saw is what could have happened. What really happened is that there actually was a spare tube for the radio and the festivities continued unabated by probing conversation.
What is interesting is that all that is being admitted here is that the conversation never took place - that doesn't mean that the dirty dark secrets in the alternate chain of events weren't necessarily real, it just means whatever secrets there are pertaining to the events of the year before remain unspoken. The movie raises the interesting question - if knowing the absolute truth does no good and only serves to break everyone's spirit and faith in what they hold fast to in life, does it serve a purpose in having it known? It's an interesting question that is left as open as the resolution of this film. Highly recommended.
This is an intriquing mystery of a bond theft and a suicide (?) that is
discussed by a group of people (connected with both) over dinner. There
are sooo many flashbacks and plot twists/changes, that it becomes quite
confusing as to "what's
what"! The ending leaves you with a feeling of "that's IT?!?!",
& I'd recommend that you see it SEVERAL times before everything "sinks in"!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
****SPOILERS**** It's just a typical day at the office with Ann and
Charles, Virgina Bruce & Melvyn Douglas, horsing around with each other
as the guy running the place, a big time New York publishing firm,
Robert, Conrad Nagel, is hard at work in his business of getting
clients with interesting and money making manuscripts to have him put
their work on the market. It also happens to be Robert and his wife
Frida's, Erin O'Brien-Moore, fifth wedding anniversary and the absent
minded Robert, in him being reminded by Charles, had forgot to buy
Fridaa a wedding present. What soon spoils everything is that one of
the firm's client a Mr. McIntyre who's on a sea cruse sends a telegram
wanting his payment for a book he's to have published. Looking for the
US Government Bond locked in the company safe that to be McIntyre's fee
it's found to be missing!
This sets off a panic between those responsible for keeping McIntyre's money in a safe place with among the four who have the key to the safe Charles Robert Godon,Henry Wodsworth, and Martin, Ian Keith, it's Martin who's not accounted for at the office. When Martin is finally tracked down, by phone, at his country getaway he has no idea where Mr. McIntyre's bond is. With Charles driving over to Martin's place to see if he's holding something back from him Robert & Gordon he's found lying on the floor shot to death with a bullet in his chest!
It's now a year later with Martin's death ruled a suicide by a court of inquiry everyone who was around on that fateful day including Gordon's 18 year old wife Betty, Betty Furness, get together for a nighttime tea party to talk over events of the day. It's when Gordon turns on the radio,the Victrola was on the brink, to have some music to listen too and sooth everyones nerves that things take a turn for the worse. The radio suddenly conks out and Gordon can't find a tube to replace the burned out one. With no music to relax and dance too all the people at the party start to run off their mouths about the only person not there Martin and what they did on the day of his death one year ago when he killed himself! And it's that loose talk that brings out the real truth of Martin's death that everyone at the party had kept hidden from both the court of inquiry as well as themselves!
****SPOILERS**** The film "Dangerous Corner" brings out how people when not occupied with the trivial things in life can really put their minds to work and come up with thought-provoking ides and insights in their lives and the lives of others! Martin was dead and buried for a year with no one wanting to go beyond the fact that he killed himself when it was about to be discovered that he stole McIntyre's Bond. As the truth started coming out among those at the party the truth was far more different then what was publicly known about the dead Martin. And that truth would have never came to see the light of day, even though the events took place at night, if Gordon somehow found a new tube for the radio to keep the music playing and keep his as well as everyone else at the party occupied with it!
*****MAJOR SPOILER**** It's then when you think that it's all over with the films sad and depressing ending you unexpectedly find out that there's another side to it! And then like radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say "Now here's the rest of the Story".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Did anyone else notice that as the movie goes on and all of the
characters' secrets are revealed, the character of Gordon (Betty's
husband) is left with nothing to say -- and that when Betty reveals
that her marriage to Gordon has been unhappy, we're not told why?
That's because Hollywood left out what the original play revealed:
Gordon was in love with Martin.
Knowing that fact helps you understand why Betty was unhappy, and unhappy in a way that someone might hide from friends and family (particularly in that era).Leaving that plot point out doesn't ruin the movie, it just leaves Gordon standing around a lot at the end.
Also, the play ends as soon as you get past the point where Gordon gets the radio going -- the secrets will not be unraveled after all, but you're left with the sense that these "happy" people have merely avoided what will eventually all come out with devastating results. It's not a happy ending.
In the movie, we do get a happy ending of sorts, a marriage proposal. It changes the tone completely, and I'd say weakens the effect.
A very young Melvyn Douglas gives quite a solid performance in this screen drama adapted from a successful stage play. The film's origins are not at all disguised, and even the nice trick ending looks like the type of thing one would expect in theatre. There are a number of curious ideas that are spread throughout the film, especially in terms of distorting the truth, however there's relatively little action, with events told through dialogue, which makes it a bit overly talkative and a tad confusing. It is also inappropriately slow to build up and melodramatic, although never poorly done. It is hard to know what to make of the film, but by the end I did not feel like much had happened, and therefore I can only half-heartedly recommend it, although Douglas fans are sure to delight at seeing him here so young.
Watch this movie from 1934 (from a 1932 English play by J.B.
Priestley)to see how early the English-speaking elite began to smash up
their values, with a direct path to the mayhem and anomie of the
1960s/70s, and now the politically correct straightjackets of the early
21st century. I don't give it a 10 because of the excisions made to
satisfy the censors - too bad for that, as it would have made the movie
even more delicious.
For delicious it is, watching people throw up on their values as they wear magnificent gowns, even if we are living with the consequences now. Watch it to see what we need to recover...
Priestley is of the GB Shaw school - tradition and the wisdom of our ancestors is out the window, with no one knowing at the time what great new world awaits us. Unfortunately, we know now, and owe it all to these misguided geniuses for dramatic dialogue.
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