Noir City 14 presented me with a couple of challenges. I wanted to get my money’s worth from the festival, yet I also wanted to explore San Francisco with my wife, who is not a movie fan. So I made a decision to skip a couple of films, one of which I had already seen recently, The Dark Corner (1946), which you can read about here.
Even so, I was able to catch the last 30 minutes or so of the film, plenty of time to see William Bendix get what was coming to him at the hands of Clifton Webb. (Sorry, slight spoiler there…)
In his introduction to the next film, Eddie Muller admitted that Crack-Up (1946, directed by Irving Reis) is not one of his favorite noir films, but it does fit the Noir City 14 theme of art. The film begins with an agitated man (Pat O’Brien, below on his back) smashing the glass door of the Manhattan Museum and assaulting a museum guard. Once the museum staff rush to the scene, they discover that this crazed man is none other than George Steele, art critic, forgery expert, and lecturer at the museum.
The Dark Corner (1946) Henry Hathaway
Fox Film Noir DVD
New York private detective Brad Galt (Mark Stevens, right) is starting over after a bad luck streak in his previous home of San Francisco, where he served time for killing a man while driving drunk. Only problem is Galt was framed. But starting over gives you a new perspective and a new secretary in the form of Kathy (Lucille Ball, left), who might just turn out to be more than a secretary if Galt has anything to do with it.
Somewhere in the Night (1946) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Fox Film Noir DVD
George Taylor (John Hodiak, above) finds himself in an Army hospital, recovering from wounds sustained from falling on a live grenade. Yet Taylor has also suffered amnesia (a favorite film noir malady), so when he gets a letter from a Larry Cravat stating that he’s set $5,000 aside for him at a local LA bank, Taylor gets confused. Does he know this Cravat guy? Why can’t he remember? Everyone Taylor meets either doesn’t know Cravat or they don’t know where to find him. Help is offered by Christy Smith (Nancy Guild), a nightclub singer and the club’s owner Mel Phillips (Richard Conte, one of my favorite noir actors), but can Taylor really trust them?
Deadline at Dawn (1946)
Directed by Harold Clurman
Produced by Sid Rogell, Adrian Scott
Based on a novella by Cornell Woolrich (writing as William Irish)
Screenplay by Clifford Odets
Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca
Edited by Roland Gross
Classic Film Noir Collection: Volume 5 DVD
Deadline at Dawn is a real oddity in the film noir canon. It seems more of a mystery than a film noir, but if you insist on calling it noir, call it a noir fantasy, one that makes up its own rules. I admire it for more-or-less staying within the bounds of those rules, even though the final product is only moderately satisfying.