Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT


SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT (1946). Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Screenplay by Howard Dimsdale and Mankiewicz.

"Time doesn't change. it goes on and on but it doesn't change. I know because I've watched it. Nights. Days. Nights. Always the same. Nights are always gray. Days can have different colors, but the nights are dark and empty. Only people change. They grow old and ugly -- and pitiful. I've made believe so much for so long. That I was alive. That I had friends. That I wasn't dead. I wanted so much to make believe that somebody loved me."

An amnesiac WW 2 veteran named George Taylor (John Hodiak) learns that someone named "Larry Cravat" has put $5000 for him in a bank account but can't remember why or even who the man is. So he begins a search for the elusive Cravat, encountering a pretty singer named Christy (Nancy Guild) who takes a shine to him and vice versa. During his search Taylor encounters assorted thugs, a villain named Anzelmo (Fritz Kortner) and a hard-boiled dame named Phyllis (Margo Woode). After she kisses an unresponsive Taylor, Phyllis says "I've had more fun drinking a bromo seltzer." [Sheldon Leonard has a notable turn as Phyllis' husband.] Lloyd Nolan is a police officer who's also looking for Cravat -- and George Taylor. This interesting mystery has an intriguing plot and good dialogue, and is well-acted by Hodiak and everyone else. Woode is snappy as Phyllis, and Guild very appealing as Christy. [Guild gets to lip sync to a very nice torch song entitled "I'm in the Middle of Nowhere."] The cast stand-out, however, is Josephine Hutchinson as desperately lonely Elizabeth, who is very affecting in her brief scene wherein she speaks the dialogue quoted above. Somewhere in the Night is a snappy, absorbing picture, even if its wind-up is a little predictable and disappointing, but it has well-realized characters and memorable performances. Mankiewicz's direction is only routine for this type of material, however. This was Guild's first film; she also appeared in Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. She makes a much better impression in this film.

Verdict: Suspenseful and different. ***.

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