Thursday, October 20, 2011
Walter Williams (Brian Donlevy) has just had a triumph in the boardroom and hopes to take a trip with his wife, Irene (Helen Walker). Instead he winds up giving a lift to his wife's alleged cousin, Jim (Tony Barrett, a rather unlikely lover boy). The best scene in the picture vividly details the fateful things that happen on the mountain highway between the two men. The problem with Impact is that it starts out as a high-tension thriller, then halfway through settles into an unconvincing small-town romance, and never quite recovers from this. It is also incredibly illogical, with one character being arrested for murder even though it's clear that the "victim" was killed in an accident -- with witnesses no less [who are never called to testify -- sure!] Donlevy isn't a bad actor, but he lacks the vulnerability to make the romantic scenes work, and Ella Raines, as the woman he falls for, is only adequate. Charles Coburn is miscast as an Irish cop on the case. He isn't terrible, but this is one of his rare unimpressive performances. Anna May Wong [Daughter of Shanghai] has a small but pivotal role as a maid, and Philip Ahn [Red Barry] turns up as her uncle. Clarence Kolb of My Little Margie appears in the opening boardroom scene. As expected, Helen Walker [Nightmare Alley] gives the most vital performance as Walter's wife.
Verdict: Lots of potential in this, but a weak script and some indifferent acting put paid to an interesting premise. **1/2.