An insurance lawyer unhappy with his rate of company advancement becomes a middleman in deals to recover stolen property from the Mob, thus earning a nice living. But his actions attract police attention and set him up for a double-cross.
A World War II veteran, suffering from amnesia but otherwise healthy, is released from a veteran's hospital, decides to return to Los Angeles to see if he can regain his identity. Trying to retrace his former steps he soon learns that he was a double-crossing gangster, and many people have reasons to wish he wasn't around...and some try to see to it that he isn't around very long...alive, at least.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This is one of those post-War noir films about a soldier with amnesia. The film is chiefly notable for its excellent expressionist noir cinematography by Austrian émigré John Alton, with some splendid scenes such as two people tensely talking to each other in bold silhouette. Sometimes the stark lighting and dramatic shots are almost too much, as in the beginning when the psychiatrist who has treated John Payne in the Veterans' Hospital tells him as starkly as the lighting of the scene that there are two types of amnesia, organic and psychological, and he has the organic type which cannot be treated because he has shrapnel in his brain. Knowing only that he enlisted in the Army from Los Angeles (he later discovers it was under a false name, which is why the Army cannot discover anything to tell him about his background), Payne is released from hospital and goes back to his origins to see if he can discover anything about who he is. The film moves right along and does not waste time with exposition, so as soon as Payne steps off a train at Union Station, he is recognised by some cops who haven't seen him in five years. Payne then has the shocking realization that he had been a criminal, and he is immediately sucked into dangerous and compromising situations, involving people who want him dead. Ellen Drew is excellent as his former wife who has trouble believing that he is not pretending to have lost his memory, and doesn't want to help him at first. Two of Payne's strong points as an actor were looking bewildered and looking resolute, so he is well cast, as he has to do both in turn. Sonny Tufts is terrifying as a vicious criminal who wants to kill Payne, and one suspects that the film crew must have been scared to death of him. This is a good B thriller of modest pretensions. John Payne was a very nice man with excellent manners and a pleasant personality. I only met him once. My mother and I called on him backstage after he had been in a play. She and he had known each other when growing up in Roanoke and Salem, Virginia. She told me Payne was from what used to be called 'a good family', he was a glamorous young man whom all the girls were chasing, but he got bored with Virginia and decided to become an actor. She had a very high regard for him, and my impression of him was that he was a fine fellow.
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