A man is found murdered, with witnesses convinced about the woman they saw leaving his apartment. However, it becomes apparent that the woman has a twin, and finding out which one is the killer seems impossible.
Olivia de Havilland,
A serial killer in London is murdering young women he meets through the personal columns of newspapers. He announces each of his murders to the police by sending them a cryptic poem. After ... See full summary »
Private investigator Bradford Galt has moved to New York from San Fransisco after serving a jail term on account of his lawyer partner Tony Jardine. When he finds someone is tailing - and possibly trying to kill him, Galt believes Jardine is behind it. As he finds there is rather more to it, he is increasingly glad to have his attractive new secretary Kathleen around, for several reason. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ball, Webb, Bendix and Stevens in satisfying - and smashing looking - noir
It's a loss to the noir cycle that Lucille Ball never got to exercise her widely underestimated acting (as opposed to comedic) skills as a femme fatale; she might have gained entry to the Bad Girls' Club. She did, however, lend her welcome presence to three film noir: Two Smart People, Lured, and, the first and best of them, The Dark Corner.
She plays the new, spunky receptionist to private eye Mark Stevens (and gets top billing; logically the star, Stevens comes only fourth in the titles). Once framed into a manslaughter charge in San Francisco, Stevens has come east to start over with a clean slate. But he's being measured for an even bigger frame. White-suited William Bendix is the cat's-paw in a plot to goad Stevens into murdering the old partner who set him up (Kurt Kreuger).
Kreuger, however, isn't even aware that Stevens is out of prison and in New York; he's too busy romancing the young wife (Cathy Downs) of rich art-gallery owner Clifton Webb (she sits around bored, listening to `his paintings crack with age'). Webb is the puppet-master behind the elaborate scheme to eliminate his younger, more virile rival. When Stevens comes to on the floor of his apartment with a poker in his hand and Kreuger bludgeoned to death next to him, he, with Ball's help, must race against his inevitable arrest to find the real killer.
The story flits between two Manhattans: The shabby cityscape of penny arcades under the El and flats that open up onto fire escapes, populated by Stevens, Ball and Bendix, and the haut monde of ritzy galleries and high-ceilinged, richly upholstered apartments inhabited by Clift, Downs and Kreuger. Spanning the gap is the unholy alliance between the coarse Bendix and the p***-elegant Webb, reprising his Bitter Old Queen number from Laura and The Razor's Edge (though again, as in Laura, we're asked to swallow his obsession with a beautiful...woman half his age).
While maintaining a deft balance, the plot weighs in as quite a brutal one (Webb's quick dispatch of Bendix proves quite startling). Despite this role and The Street With No Name, Stevens never quite became the noir icon - like Ladd or Bogart or Mitchum (or even like Powell or Ford or Ryan) he seemed destined for, but he's persuasive enough as a man strained to the limit by forces he can't fathom.
Henry Hathaway directed, but the black magic comes courtesy of cinematographer Joe MacDonald. He ably lighted a number of estimable noirs (Street With No Name, Call Northside 777, Pickup on South Street), but here his work surpasses itself. When Ball and Stevens embrace, he turns a two-shot into a four-shot by placing them in front of a fireplace mirror; we see her face in the foreground, his in reflection. In plot, writing and direction, The Dark Corner falls just short of the finest entries in the cycle. But in its strikingly composed photography, finely filigreed with shadow, it could be shown at a gala opening in Webb's high-priced gallery.
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