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

Thursday, June 2, 2011

DIAL 1119

DIAL 1119 (1950). Director: Gerald Mayer.

"You'd better leave God out of it. God's got other fish to fry besides you."

Gunther Wyckoff (Marshall Thompson) escapes from a mental institution, murders some people, and winds up in a bar where he holds several customers and staff members hostage. These include the blonde barfly, "Freddie" (Virginia Field), the obnoxious bartender, Chuckles (William Conrad), handsome waiter Skip (Keefe Braselle), Helen (Andrea King), who wants to make changes in her life, and married Earl (Leon Ames), who hopes to be one of those changes. There's also a reporter, Harry (James Bell), who thinks he's finally on top -- literally -- of a great breaking story. Sam Levene plays Gunther's psychiatrist, Dr. Faron, who goes in to talk to the man against the advice of the police [although it's never explained why they at least don't give him a bullet-proof vest]. Thompson is okay, but Field and Conrad give the most memorable performances. Taut and absorbing for the most part, Dial 1119 is still strictly minor-league. This film is included in the Film Noir Classics Collection Volume 5.

Verdict: Not bad for what it is. **1/2.


broadcastellan said...

I liked this taut film (even though I have seen quite a few hostage movies lately, among them "He Ran All the Way") and was intrigued by its use of/commentary on modern media and technology. Loved Virginia Field in it. I though Sam Levene was rather miscast or just didn't get enough to do. Leon Ames would have been more convincing in Levene's part. Not that Marshall Thompson was quite up to being his patient. Anyway, I have "Boomerang" with Levene on Blu-ray lined up.

William said...

Dial 1119 was "not bad," LOL! It's funny how I thought it was "taut and absorbing" but "strictly minor-leaque," -- in other words, not something I'd especially like to see again.

I think you may be right about Leon Ames. Marshall Thompson -- well he was cute, if not as hot as Braselle!

Thanks for your comments, Harry!