Jerry McKibbon is a tough, no nonsense reporter, mentoring special prosecutor John Conroy in routing out corrupt officials in the city, which may even include Conroy's own police detective father as a suspect.
In Los Angeles, salesman E.V. 'Marsh' Marshall works for wealthy real-estate developer Ralph Nevins. In his spare time he sleeps with his boss' wife, Pauline Nevins. She was saved from poverty by Ralph when they married but Ralph is much older than her and she hates him. Of course, she loves his money and that's why she doesn't leave him for the much younger office hunk Marsh. Despite the secret affair, Marsh respects his boss who gives him promotions and praises. Nevertheless, he would elope with his boss' wife but she wouldn't hear of it. Love is one thing but a return to a life without luxuries is another. At the office, Ralph Nevins' secretary, young Kathy Stevens, secretly loves office beau Marsh but she is too shy to reveal her feelings. She would later play a crucial role in a murder investigation involving the main characters. During one of their secret interludes under the moon, Marsh and Pauline Nevins witness a discussion between three shady men who are planning to steal ...Written by
Warner Brothers 30s 40s director Michael Curtiz was well past his prime when he made this lower tier work rich in both mood and atmospherics for Paramount. Grazing in Billy Wilder Double Indemnity territory it lacks the first string line-up of Stanwyck, MacMurray and Robinson but the second team acquits itself well enough to make this a pretty suspenseful piece.
"Marsh" Marshall (Tom Tryon) and his boss's wife Pauline are having some illicit recreation at a local lover's lane when they overhear three men planning a major heist. Pauline, the spine in the relationship concocts an idea to rob them after they pull the job. The pliable Marsh (mellow?) blinded by Pauline's sexiness and passion reluctantly goes along.
Well paced Scarlet Hour runs on deception and betrayal with plenty of double cross along the way weaving in the thieves subplot to the major theme of the adulterous leads seamlessly as fatale Pauline must manipulate three men to her grand plan.
Tryon and Ohmarht are fine if inconsistent at times while a supporting cast of hang dog looking pros (James Gregory, EG Marshall, Edward Binns, Elaine Strich, Rene Aubuchon, James Lewis) add sober gravitas.
Special mention goes to the camera work of Lionel Liddon who keeps us in the dark (a majority of the film takes place in the evening) with some bold chiaroscuro compositions that up the noir tenor and elevate Scarlet Hour to an impressive overachiever.
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