A retired professor rents his attic apartment to pregnant Peggy and her GI-Bill-student husband. The professor ponders if his life is no longer useful while the young couple faces the challenges shared with many WW II veterans' families.
When a detective scoffs at his suggestion that an 18 year-old criminal be referred for psychiatric examination Dr. Andrew Collins, the police psychiatrist, tells him the story of his encounter with Al Walker. Walker had a history of violence and killed the prison warden during an escape. He and his gang took the Collins family and their friends hostage but when Dr. Collins learns that Walker has a violent recurring dream, he offers to help him decipher the dream and determine exactly what has driven him to a life of crime and violence.Written by
[Referring to Stevens]
How's the tough guy? Is he behaving?
He's talking business. He wants to make a deal. He thinks his life is worth money.
How much did he offer... two bucks?
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The Dark Past may very well have been a turning point in the career of William Holden. As you remember Holden had a dual contract with Columbia and Paramount and I'm sure Billy Wilder at Paramount must have seen The Dark Past before casting Holden in Sunset Boulevard. This B film for Columbia was unlike any of the 'smiling jim' roles that Holden had played up to now.
The Dark Past has only a 75 minute running time and was playing the bottom end of Columbia double bills when it first came out. It's a remake of another Columbia film Dark Past with Chester Morris in Holden's part as the escaped killer. The part of the psychiatrist played by Lee J. Cobb here was played by Ralph Bellamy in the previous production.
Cobb is now a police psychiatrist, but wasn't always; in fact as he relates in flashback he was a professor when he ran into Holden who was escaping from jail with his mob and his moll. They take refuge in Cobb's summer house where Cobb and family are entertaining guests.
Lee is as cool as he would be emerging from a refrigerator. He starts getting under Holden's skin with his training exposing the real cause of his killer personality. Most disarming in every sense of the word.
If it were only that easy. Still the film in its short run does keep one in suspense. A lot like the duel of minds between Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March in The Desperate Hours. Also look for a very good performance by Nina Foch as Holden's moll who unwittingly leads to her man's downfall when she asks Cobb to find out about a recurrent nightmare Holden has.
If a dose of Freud could only cure all bad behavior.
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