33 user 9 critic

The Dark Past (1948)

An escaped psychopathic killer who takes the family and neighbors of police psychologist hostage reveals a recurring nightmare to the doctor.


Rudolph Maté


Malvin Wald (adaptation), Oscar Saul (adaptation) | 4 more credits »




Cast overview:
William Holden ... Al Walker
Nina Foch ... Betty
Lee J. Cobb ... Dr. Andrew Collins
Adele Jergens ... Laura Stevens
Stephen Dunne ... Owen Talbot
Lois Maxwell ... Ruth Collins
Berry Kroeger ... Mike
Steven Geray ... Professor Fred Linder
Wilton Graff ... Frank Stevens
Robert Osterloh ... Pete
Kathryn Card ... Nora
Robert Hyatt ... Bobby Collins (as Bobby Hyatt)
Ellen Corby ... Agnes
Charles Cane Charles Cane ... Sheriff
Robert B. Williams ... Williams


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SENSATIONAL SUSPENSE DRAMA! (original print media ad - all caps)


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Did You Know?


Al Walker is first seen with the kidnapped warden speeding along country roads in a 1942 Mercury Eight Town Sedan. Professor Linder drives a 1942 Mercury Eight Club Convertible. See more »


Al takes a book off of Andrews book shelf and opens it to somewhere near page 50 or 60, but in the next close-up, the page Al is looking at is revealed to be the start of Chapter 22. It's highly unlikely that a scholarly book about psychology would average under three pages per chapter. See more »


Betty: [Referring to Stevens] How's the tough guy? Is he behaving?
Mike: He's talking business. He wants to make a deal. He thinks his life is worth money.
Betty: [Contemptuously] How much did he offer... two bucks?
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Remake of Blind Alley (1939) See more »


from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major
by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

Talky hostage drama relies on Freud for Dummies
1 November 2001 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

The return of variously shell-shocked, amnesiac or otherwise afflicted soldiers from the front precipitated a spate of postwar movies purporting to delve into the mysteries of the human psyche. In most cases, psychology was presented either as a sinister black art (to be viewed with the utmost suspicion) or in a laughingly simplistic way. The Dark Past, grindingly earnest, opts for the latter path. Wrong'un William Holden, visibly chafing under the constraints of the script, invades a home and holds its occupants -- family and guests -- hostage. He has the bad luck to find among them psychoanalyist Lee J. Cobb, puffing away at the inevitable pipe, who turns the ordeal into a teaching opportunity. Slowly he breaks down Holden's wall of defenses, until a childhood memory emerges....This Freudian breakthrough, of course, occurs in record time, though for viewers it may seem like a big chunk of eternity. Mercifully, Adele Jergens sashays in and out a few times to lower the picture's tone to tolerable. The Dark Past is a period-piece, of some interest to fans of the noir cycle, but its stagey insights and dated dramaturgy have not aged gracefully.

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Release Date:

25 April 1949 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Hearsay See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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