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

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Portrait of evil: Douglas Fowley
BEHIND LOCKED DOORS (1948). Director: Budd Boetticher.

Reporter Kathy Lawrence (Lucille Bremer) importunes new private eye Ross Stewart (Richard Carlson) to work with her to find a missing corrupt judge whose capture will net them $5000 a piece. The only problem is that Ross will have to get himself committed to the La Siesta sanitarium where Kathy is sure the judge is hiding. Once inside the institution, Ross discovers there's more corruption and danger than  he ever anticipated. Carlson is fine as the flip, overly insouciant private eye who discovers some situations are more serious than others, and Bremer [Till the Clouds Roll By] is okay, but the most striking performance is from Douglas Fowley [He's a Cockeyed Wonder] as the sadistic and utterly evil attendant, Larson. Thomas Browne Henry is fine as the head of the institution and there's nice work from Ralf Harolde [Night Nurse] as Dobbs, another, nicer attendant. A fully grown Dicke Moore plays a young patient who is actually Dobbs' son. John Holland plays a state psychiatrist, Kathleen Freeman has a bit as a nurse, and Tor Johnson plays another inmate who tries to box Carlson to bits in the film's liveliest sequence. I don't know if Behind Locked Doors was the first film to use the premise of a sane man feigning mental illness to get inside an institution for some purpose, but in the early sixties two movies followed suit. In Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor a reporter hopes to win a Pulitzer and Shock Treatment presents a guy whose intention is to get information about some missing moolah. This movie is barely an hour long.

Verdict: Snappy B thriller with a highly sinister Fowley. ***.

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