Hollywood 1950: The successful producer Larry O'Brian arrives in Los Angeles to found a motion picture company. He buys an old studio which was unused since the days of silent movies. He's ... See full summary »
An altruistic department-store owner hires ex-convicts in order to give them a second chance at life. Unfortunately, one of the convicts he hires recruits two of his fellow ex-convicts in a plan to rob the store.
Pretty much pure plot, still, one of the bricks making up the noir cycle
There's more to Undertow than the first screen credit of young `Roc' Hudson (in fact his tiny role as a police detective barely registers). It's one of a handful of noirs that William Castle directed before turning his attention to, and making his name in, gimmicky schlock. While none of them is so good as his first When Strangers Marry, with Robert Mitchum and Kim Hunter they're more than passable. As is Undertow.
Scott Brady looks like Lawrence Tierney's kid brother (which in fact he was). In Reno after a stint at a mountain lodge he wants to buy and run, he bumps into an old pal from mobbed-up Chicago (John Russell). They compare the diamond rings they've bought for their respective fiancees, though that doesn't stop Brady from flirting with a girl (Peggy Dow) he met in a casino and shares a flight home with. Since the police meet him at the plane, any extracurricular romance comes to naught, so Brady dutifully hooks up with his intended (Dorothy Hart). Next thing, he's taken for a ride and framed for the murder of unseen crime boss Big Jim, who happens to be Hart's uncle. Trying to clear himself while on the lam, he enlists Dow's help; he also happens to stumble onto the fact that his fiancee and Russell's are the same woman....
Undertow is pure story, competently enough executed if devoid of anything particular to lodge in the memory. It preserves evidence of why Brady stayed in his brother's imposing shadow, and leads one to wonder why Hart made so few movies (though, of her handful of credits, roughly half are noirs). While not an essential title in the noir cycle by any means, Undertow was one of the hundreds of titles that went into making it a cycle, and far from the weakest of them.
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