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

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Lucille Ball and Mark Stevens
THE DARK CORNER (1946). Director: Henry Hathaway.

"Love is not just for the young, my dear; it's a heartache that affects all age groups."

Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens), who was sent up the river on a frame-up yet somehow has a private detective license, is convinced that the very man who framed him, Tony Jardine (Kurt Krueger) is now having him tailed and trying to kill him. Presumably Krueger's hired gun is a cowardly tough guy named Stauffer (William Bendix). Also thrown into this hard- boiled mix are Galt's secretary Kathleen (Lucille Ball), a wealthy art collector named Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb) and his much younger wife, Mari (Cathy Downs), who has a wandering eye. The main problem with this movie is that the audience, knowing everything that's going on, is always one step ahead of the hero Galt as he tries to figure out what's going on and who's really trying to get him, so there's virtually no suspense. Webb and Bendix are both swell, Ball is completely miscast and wasted -- as much as I love Lucy she's not a good fit with film noir [such as Lured] --  and Stevens does a pretty good approximation of a hardened if pretty-boy gumshoe. Webb is given the best dialogue and delivers it in his inimitable style: "That happens to be a coincidence I took great pains to arrange," he says, as well as  "the enjoyment of art is the only real ecstasy that is neither immoral nor illegal." Downs, who is fine as an adulterous wife, later appeared in The Amazing Colossal Man and Missile to the Moon; she was a talented actress who never quite got the breaks but amassed quite a few credits. 

Verdict: Entertaining if somehow third-rate but saved by Webb and Bendix. **.

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