After Police Captain Dan McLaren becomes police commissioner former detective Johnny Blake knocks him down convincing rackets boss Al Kruger that Blake is sincere in his effort to join the ... See full summary »
Edward G. Robinson,
William Castle's first noteworthy effort (incidentally, the copy I acquired bore a new title - BETRAYED!) was made at Poverty Row studio Monogram within a genre he would intermittently return to until the genial director saw he could particularly make a mint with Horror. It is a noir with a distinct Hitchcock feel: in fact, the plot bears obvious nods to both SUSPICION (1941) and SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943), a murder attempt is borrowed wholesale from FOREIGN CORRSPONDENT (1940), and there is even Castle's own 'appearance' (which is actually treated as a recurring in-joke here!).
It was an equally important film for Robert Mitchum, not only because it showed that his star was definitely rising but in view of the fact that the ultimate revelation as to his character's true nature would be reworked in some of his later (and most impressive) work. Curiously enough, I was under the impression that he would be the suspected murderer husband but the way things played out, I must congratulate the scriptwriters (including Philip Yordan) on their ingenuity. Leading lady Kim Hunter (ideally cast as the fresh-faced bride) had just come off the Val Lewton production THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943), while Dean Jagger has an atypical lead role (it is even more unusual to see him sporting a full head of hair!) their awkwardness is never more effectively delineated than when they find themselves stranded inside a Harlem nightclub (showcasing an over-enthusiastic black dancer). Also on hand is Neil Hamilton (later Commissioner Gordon in the campy but popular BATMAN TV series of the 1960s) already in his element as a Police Inspector; incidentally, his ambivalent relationship with Mitchum throughout pays off in droves during the frenzied climax.
Despite the evident economy of means, the film still displays considerable style along the way (atmospheric chiaroscuro lighting, effective low-angle shooting, an imaginative hallucination sequence, etc.); the role-reversal in the opening and closing scenes is a nice touch, too. For the record, I own several more of Castle's (by all accounts, lesser) noirs but I probably will not have time to fit any of them in my current schedule...
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