A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.
Prizefighter Johnny is in love with his promoter O'Malley's daughter Pat. His best friend, sports reporter Rick, is also in love with her but knows that she loves Johnny. Lonely Rick takes ... See full summary »
Homicide detective Mike Conovan investigates the shooting of fellow detective Monigan...who apparrently was moonlighting as guard for a bookie. He finds that all the bookies in town are ... See full summary »
On being demobbed at the end of the war, Canadian flyer Laurence Gerard returns to France to discover who ordered the killing of a group of Resistence fighters including his new bride. He identifies Vichy collaborator Marcel Jarnac, who is reported as dead himself. Not believing this, Gerard follows the trail to Argentina where it is apparent that Nazism is also far from dead.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
In the window of the Bern insurance company, the German word for insurance, "Versicherungen" is misspelled "Vesicherungen". See more »
There are still one or two good things left in this sordid world if one knows where to look for them. I'm afraid, however, that the quality of the liquor is holding up better than the quality of the women. You an American?
Good. I find Americans a little abrupt in their approach to both subjects.
See more »
An early noir, prototypical in many ways and strong, if confusing, overall
"You can't be serious," the cheerful man said to Dick Powell, playing an ex-soldier in post-war Argentina. "I'm always serious," Powell replies. And he is. This defines the actor, and the character, and the doggedness of this character's pursuit of some mystery in the movie. It's impressive and wearing--a little humor might make him more human, yes, and it would also make the move more watchable. The cheerful man is a mystery, too, played with usual irony and crossed agendas by Walter Slezak (seen in a similar role in "Born to Kill").
Director Edward Dmytryk is as usual just short of superb. I don't think he has a bad film, but he often worked with compromised material (the story here is an example) or he worked too quickly (my guess) to pull together something extraordinary. But putting it this way is meant to say this movie has lots of aspects that are great.
One strength is the section of shots of what looks like genuine war torn France made months after the end of fighting. Another highlight is the film noir style throughout--the lighting, the clipped dialog, the lone man against the world, the brooding depression. Powell is his own kind of attraction. As offputting as his anger can get after awhile, it's exactly what makes him good, bullheaded and bulldozing his way through a complex network of enemies (who would really just kill him in short order if this was a realistic film, which no noir is).
The plot is unusually hard to follow (though other noirs come close, like "The Big Heat"). And the antagonists are largely only talked about--Powell is searching for someone, and that person and his collaborators are either unseen or so duplicitous you don't know where he stands, and so the ominousness gets vague, but also beautifully diffuse and omnipresent. It is this oppressiveness that is part of the success here, even as you get lost with the details of the plot. There are some nice night shots (one briefly in the park is ominous) and many facial close ups. There is a terrific conversation on a subway platform with the noise of the cars drowning out the talk now and then, great audio effect. And so the filming is worth the ride alone at times. The music is intense and dramatic, the bit actors really powerful even if they sometimes do foolish things (the valet getting shot, or half of the things Powell does).
In the film noir "cycle" this is early--the core films come after WWII, so this, along with "Double Indemnity," is cutting edge in that sense. It's also definitive in its mood. It's not a crime film, not a gangster story (which is where the hard film style has its American roots). It's a plot about how a person tries to rearrange his life after having it messed up, internally and externally, by the war. Powell is a perfect early noir leading male (the other famous one in the 1940s is Bogart). So this is a critically important film, maybe more important than truly enjoyable, but if you like noir it'll be terrific enough to hold you. If you aren't predisposed to like this kind of story, you'll find it meandering and dull and confusing. Me? I'm predisposed to like it, and I did, and I'll even watch it again, probably figuring it out a little more and enjoying it better.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this