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Above-average Paramount "B" thriller from director Robert Siodmak. A few surprises (including an imaginative action sequence and a jolting revelation during a climatic confrontation) elevate a standard falsely-accused-man-on-the-lam plot. Well-paced and atmospheric.
Director Robert Siodmak did an excellent job with this B thriller, which has some unusual plot twists and ideas in it. Richard Carlson is the lead, and he is extremely well-cast as an innocent and well-meaning bystander who becomes involved in complex intrigues which have nothing to do with him, gets accused of a murder he did not commit, and goes on the run to save his name. He meets the insouciant and charming Nancy Kelly, makes her help him at gunpoint, and they end up being forced to get married by a justice of the peace in order to avoid being killed by some heavies waiting outside with guns, which is certainly a new twist in story lines! The story concerns a new military invention called 'G-32', the secret of which the baddies want to steal. The film opens with the inventor's assistant escaping from a madhouse, where he has been incarcerated by the baddies, though we don't know at first that the man is not really a maniac on the run. He doesn't last long, but before he dies he has compromised poor Richard Carlson and enmeshed him in a web of plotting, spying, and murder. There is an amazing series of scenes where Carlson and Kelly leap from a speeding car onto an auto-carrier, catch a free ride, and then later unfasten the car and reverse it down the ramp while in motion on a highway, and escape in it. Those interested in stunts will be all agog at watching this. The film is good viewing and should be more widely available.
Saw it when I was in high school and enjoyed the auto driving backwards off the auto-carrier. Am looking for a VHS or DVD copy. Any suggestions. I found out later that this picture was Nancy Kelly's first picture for Paramount. Also believe that Ms Kelly displayed her nice legs at least 2 times ,with Richard Carlson covering them up by pulling down her skirt, as she was lying ,havng fainted, on a couch. I think , if I remember correctly, that Richard Carlson, was a innocent man that got involved and could not help himself. Even though it was ab picture, the director gave it plenty of suspense and action. The best naturally, was the great ending. Naturally , it was a long time ago , but it made quite an impression on me,especially since it was during the War. As I said before , I would be happy to find even a good copy of this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's getting to the point where I've seen most major (and readily
available) noirs so I'm going back and mining the next layer of the
batcave, seeking out hidden gems less well known. Fly-By-Night is a
good example: a little-seen crime drama that might deserve another
look. Is it a classic? Hell no. Does the plot hold together? Just
barely. Is it entertaining and enjoyable? Thoroughly. Does it deserve
consideration by noirists looking for something different? Surely.
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.
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