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Crack-Up (1946)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 6 September 1946 (USA)
Art curator George Steele experiences a train wreck...which never happened. Is he cracking up, or the victim of a plot?

Director:

Irving Reis
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Pat O'Brien ... George Steele
Claire Trevor ... Terry Cordell
Herbert Marshall ... Traybin
Ray Collins ... Dr. Lowell
Wallace Ford ... Lt. Cochrane
Dean Harens ... Reynolds
Damian O'Flynn ... Stevenson
Erskine Sanford ... Barton
Mary Ware Mary Ware ... Mary
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Storyline

George Steele, art curator at a small museum, has an apparent mental breakdown one night, convinced he was in a train wreck...which never happened. In flashback, shortly after proposing to x-ray some old master paintings the museum has on loan, Steele is called on an unplanned nocturnal train trip. He suddenly sees another train ahead, speeding toward his... Is George indeed cracking up, or is there a plot to discredit him? The mystery grows murky with shadowy menace... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

COULD I KILL...AND NOT REMEMBER? (original print ad-all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 September 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Galveston See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Footage of the train was used again in "The Narrow Margin." See more »

Goofs

Barton addresses a character by her real name, not her character's name. It happens about ten minutes into the movie, when George Steele's lecture is just ending. Among the attendees, Barton turns around, sees Mary, and addresses her as "Miss Ware". The character Mary's last name is unknown, but she's played by Mary Ware. See more »

Quotes

Terry Cordell: Wouldn't it be smarter to go to Cochrane and get this thing out in the open?
George Steele: About as smart as cutting my throat to get some fresh air.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Narrow Margin (1952) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

No Favors to Train Travel
21 November 2010 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Art critic O'Brien is menaced by unseen forces and must find out who and why.

No doubt about it, that train wreck scene is brilliantly conceived and edited. In fact, the whole train sequence amounts to an atmospheric triumph. Catch the passenger car interior when O'Brien opens the door—it fairly oozes closed-in flesh, along with that shrewish wife scolding her hubby on the evils of drink. Few films manage a truly memorable sequence, but this one does.

Otherwise, it's a decent noir, though I agree it's also over-plotted and under-explained. Plus, many of those many narrow escapes are simply too contrived to stick. The movie's more one of compelling parts than a successful whole. Nonetheless, O'Brien handles his part in suitably restrained fashion, besides few actors were better at "drop dead" brush-offs, of which he gets to do several. Looks like the normally fast-talking Irishman was refashioning his image to align with the post-war crime drama craze.

But my money's on the great Ray Collins. Was there ever a smoother actor, from Citizen Kane (1941) to TV's Perry Mason of the 50's and 60's. Here, he delivers in sinister spades. Then there's poor Mary Ware as the loyally devious secretary. I'm sure she was cast for her totally innocent demeanor and looks, the better to hook the audience. But then, oh my gosh, she has to speak her lines.

The movie's subtext is in line with the war's common effort and everyman spirit. The villains act as properly outspoken elitists, first cousins presumably of the recently defeated Nazi's. At the same time, I thought art critic O'Brien's little lecture on the role of "art is what I like" made good sense.

All in all, it's a strongly visual, if somewhat turgid, noir that probably did train travel no favors.


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