Crime (US); 1946;
Not Rated; 99 Minutes
Mark Stevens: Bradford Galt
Lucille Ball: Kathleen
Clifton Webb: Hardy Cathcart
William Bendix: White Suit
Kurt Kreuger: Tony Jardine
Cathy Downs: Mari Cathcart
Reed Hadley: Lt. Frank Reeves
Produced by Fred
Kohlmar; Directed by Henry Hathaway; Screenwritten
by Jay Dratler and Bernard C. Schoenfeld; based on a
short story by Leo Rosten
by DAVID KEYES
noir has a sovereign tendency of creating worlds in our
movies that are pleasing to the eye and contain obsessive
impulses, dark characters, and creepy, realistic stories
of pain within them. We find in most cases that they stick
in the back of their minds, and this is not always a good
thing. Within these obscure worlds of noir, we are often
confronted with emotions and feelings so frightening that
we really would like to forget them, but we can't, because
at the same time of being aghast, we are enthralled, manipulated,
and convinced that these worlds exist not just in movies,
but everywhere around and within us.
things are manifestly demonstrated in Henry Hathaway's "The
Dark Corner." It is like a transgressive moment in our lifetimes;
overflowing with bitter sweet nostalgia, yet so frightening
that it's almost tormenting. To see it is to live it. To
live it is to be part of it.
movie explores and penetrates us deep into the capabilities,
consequences, and passions of crime, as it occurs by the
minute without prediction. Crime comes along sometimes so
intense and fast that you don't know what hit you. This
is derived from which Henry Hathaway's "The Dark Corner"
gets it's name: sometimes crime can push us into a dark
corner, and we don't know what we are up against.
plot of the movie investigates the troubled life of Bradford
Galt, a private dick played by Mark Stevens. A few years
ago, Galt's private investigator job in San Francisco was
put to a halt when his former partner, Tony Jardine, began
stealing money from the firm. When Galt threatened to squeal
about his little crime, Jardine framed him for manslaughter--knocking
him unconscious with alchohol in his posession and placing
him behind the wheel of a moving car, which hit an oncoming
truck and killed the driver. Galt was sentenced to two years
in prison. After getting time off for good behavior, Galt
relocated his business out of town, where a close friend
named Lt. Frank Reeves (Reed Hadley) kept a close watch
his new location, Galt hired a secretary named Kathleen,
played by Lucille Ball, whom seems to always have trouble
with her nylons. Galt has his eye on her, and at times he
finds himself throwing curves at her. But she knows his
little game, and comes prepared with her own defense.
Galt, early on, orders Kathleen to have dinner with him.
Afterwards, they go to the town carnival, where Galt finds
himself beaten at every game by her. During one scene, they
have a conversation, which goes like this:
Well, what else can I beat you at?
Bradford: What kind of games do you like to play?
You know, We've got some great playgrounds up on 52nd street.
Kathleen: Among them, your apartment?
Bradford: That's just a coincidence.
Kathleen: I haven't worked for you very long, Mr.
Galt, but I know when you're pitching a curve at me and
I always carry a catcher's mit.
can beat him at more than just carnival games, apparently.
is a character that can only be entertaining if you understand
the way she works; she doesn't play with curves like Galt
does--she plays for keeps, and she makes sure that Galt
has that on his mind when he's around her.
their date, Kathleen realizes that a man in a white suit*
is following her and Galt. When she tells him of this, he
can describe him perfectly; 5 foot 10, wears a white suit,
heavyset, etc., yet he doesn't even have to look at the
man to describe him. Apparently, we learn that White Suit
has been following Galt for a couple of days, so it is no
surprise that someone like Galt (keep in mind, he's a private
investigator) can describe him perfectly.
Galt finally confronts the white suit, he becomes fierce,
and orders an explanation. "Who is paying you to follow
me?" Naturally, White Suit can't tell Galt who is, because
it's, well, unethical. But Galt manages to get what he wants;
he squeezes the name 'Tony Jardine' out of White Suit.
of course, is an entire setup. Galt believes that Jardine
is after him again, but in truth, Jardine's good friend,
and owner of an art gallery, Hardy Cathcart, is the one
who hired white suit to follow Galt. The reason: Cathcart's
wife, Mari, is secretly carrying on an affair with Jardine,
and when he overhears them make plans to run away together,
he insists that Mari will always be his, and Jardine needs
to be taken out of the picture.
suit is hired to follow Galt to tip him off, believing that
Jardine is the one behind this mess, so a feud between Jardine
and Galt rekindles. Since Jardine's #1 enemy is his own
former partner, Galt, Hardy schemes a plan to frame Galt
for killing Jardine.
almost works, too. Galt goes home one night, and someone
knocks him unconscious. When he awakes, Jardine lies bludgeons
to death in his apartment, and in Galt's right hand lies
a fireplace poker, with blood on the tip. Galt, knowing
that he's been framed, hides Jardine's body underneath his
bed, which he knows will remain hidden until the maid cleans
the apartment later in the week. Within this short time,
Galt is forced to find the man responsible for backing him
into a dark corner, before phony murder charges are brought
up on him. Like all private investigators in the movies,
Galt pulls this task off, and by the time the last moments
of the picture arrive, Galt becomes held at gun point by
Cathcart, and Cathcart is unaware that he has his own fate
not trying to make the impression that "The Dark Corner"
is simply one of the greatest movies; it has a great story,
yes, but what is so appealing about it is the setting from
which it takes place. The city itself can be a merciless
one, but it's made all the more creepy by the spectacular
camera angles and excellent character shots. Most of the
great shots occur in the dark, when there's only a dim light
present, and the only things that can be seen are the character's
shadows. These are, perhaps, what give film noir its fantastic
appeal. Shadows are creepy and suspicious in dead darkness
and silence, with only enough light to outline them. Without
these shots, film noir would not be what it has always been.
like "The Dark Corner" are never forgettable; you look at
them and feel a shock of nostalgia come over you. We are
never sure if it's the creepy characters, stories, or settings
that make film noir so great, but if any one of these things
is missing, then the film is, to me, no longer of noir background.
of these combinations are the key concept of what makes
"The Dark Corner" a masterpiece. I'm not sure what the best
part of film noir is, and I'm not sure what the best part
about this movie is, but perhaps it is best if we try to
not decide. We can never make those decisions; we can only
watch and appreciate them the way they are.
list William Bendix's character strictly as "White Suit"
and nothing else.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.