Manhandled (1949) Lewis R. Foster
Writer Alton Bennet (Alan Napier) confides to his therapist Dr. Redmond (Harold Vermilyea) that he’s having nightmares of killing his wife Ruth (Irene Harvey), who just happens to own a very impressive collection of jewelry. Sure enough, Mrs. Bennet turns up dead and, of course, Alton is the leading suspect, but Detective Lieutenant Bill Dawson (Art Smith) thinks Alton is innocent.
Meanwhile a low-life PI named Benson (Dan Duryea) tries to frame Dr. Redmond’s secretary (Dorothy Lamour) for the murder, yet insurance investigator Joe Cooper (Sterling Hayden) thinks she’s innocent.
Leonard Maltin calls the film a “turgid drama that (the) reliable cast can’t salvage.” He certainly has a point, but I’m not sure “turgid” is the right word. The film frequently shifts in tone from straight-up crime noir to comedy and while some of the isolated scenes work well on their own, the picture is often a messy patchwork of styles, structure and tone. But I have to admit, it’s still a fun ride. Mr. Maltin is correct in that the cast is both reliable and excellent (I’ll watch Sterling Hayden and Dan Duryea in anything) and they give it their all, which is reason enough for me to recommend it.
If you’re in the San Francisco area on December 20, you can see Manhandled at the Castro Theatre as part of a double feature with a brand new 35mm print of Alias Boston Blackie (1942) as part of the Noir City Xmas. Find out more about the event here.
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Photos: Noir of the Week, Mike’s Take on the Movies, IMDb