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Clearly influenced by the then-popular Hitchcock themes of "wrong man, wrong place" and "man on lam gets involved with gal and hatred / mistrust is ultimately replaced by love," FLY BY NIGHT struggles with logic but finds other virtues to cover motivational issues and credibility. In particular, the murder of the man accompanying the lead into the apartment is beyond preposterous, as is the doctor's (and police's) reaction to what follows. Fortunately, the film's breezy matter-of-fact approach to the ridiculous set-up keeps things moving and we slowly find ourselves involved in a compelling mystery despite the insanity of how things begin.
From there the movie takes interesting, unexpected turns and against odds often balances comedy and drama more effectively than a movie this obscure ought to. A surprising twist at the end tops things off and makes this an unexpectedly fun, if implausible, outing. Siodmak is to be commended for cobbling together a nice movie from some pieces that might not have looked as promising on paper. Doesn't hold up under close scrutiny, but this is quite fun and has some different angles than your garden variety noir.
The film keeps you watching with Nancy Kelly (Pat) excelling in her role as the pounced-upon innocent who is dragged into proceedings by Carlson. Mind you, Carlson is only reacting to circumstances that he is put into. The film suffers from too much comedy that isn't funny and ludicrous situations that defy belief. It's a watch-able film but things could have been better.
There are scenes that stand out such as the episode on the car-carrying lorry and the ending when the G-32 secret is revealed. However, set against this are idiot policemen, slapstick (yawn) and some try-hard comedy sequences that don't quite work.
Next time you smoke a cigarette in a car and flick the butt out of the window make sure it actually goes out of the window. That should be standard practise obviously not for some a-holes like Richard Carlson.