Dark City Movie (1950)


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Director William Dieterle

Producer Hal B. Wallis

Scenario John Meredyth Lucas, Larry Marcus

Cinematography Victor Milner

Music Franz Waxman

Based On the story “No Escape” by Larry Marcus

Genre Action, Crime, Drama

Running Time 101 min

Country United States

Language English

Cast

Actor Character

Charlton Heston Danny Haley / Richard Branton

Lizabeth Scott Fran Garland

Viveca Lindfors Victoria Winant

Dean Jagger Capt. Garvey

Don De Fore Arthur Winant

Jack Webb Augie

Ed Begley Barney

Harry Morgan Soldier

Walter Sande Swede

Mark Keuning Billy Winant

Mike Mazurki Sidney Winant

Plot

It starts with Danny Harley (Charlton Heston) walking across the street carrying a wrapped bunny for his girlfriend. The police raid his illegal bookie joint for a third time running despite paying them for protection. Later in a night spot, he is listening to singer Fran Garland (Lizabeth Scott). Fran is deeply in love with him, but he just can’t get into a relationship with her.

He later meets an Air Force Veteran Arthur Winant (Don De Fore), who is planning to buy some sport club equipment. Danny notices a company check for $5,000 in Arthur’s wallet and he proposes a poker match in which they all agree to.

Danny’s friends including Soldier (Harry Morgan), Barney(Ed Begley), and Augie (Jack Webb) join the game too. Danny and his friends allow Arthur to win during the first night only to foul play on the next and win all of his money the following day. Upset of losing all that he had, Winant ends up hanging himself in his hotel room.

The gamblers put the cashing of the check on hold since the cops are closely watching them. Winant’s crazy brother, Sidney, starts a hunt mission for those that caused his brother’s death. He begins by killing the nervous Barley and later hanging him in his apartment. The police, led by Capt. Garvey, interrogate Danny and Augie alleging of their connection to Winant’s death.

Danny and Augie set off for Los Angeles to look for Winants’s widowed wife, Victoria. Their aim is to get all the information they need about Sidney. Danny pretends to be an insurance agent holding Winant’s life insurance policy.

With Sidney being the beneficiary, Danny asks of his whereabouts or else the policy would be awarded to Victoria. His trick proves futile and he later discloses his identity to Victoria. The enraged widow kicks him out of her house.

Danny heads back to his motel where he finds Augie’s body hanging in the shower. The police later arrest Danny suspecting his involvement in the death. While in custody, Capt. Garvey persuades his colleagues to acquit him provided he leaves Los Angeles.

Danny decides to head to Soldier’s new place in Las Vegas. Soldier secures him a job in his casino. Fran also relocates to Las Vegas and she is also employed in Soldier’s casino. During one of his day off, Danny plays crap in a nearby casino. He wins a fortune out of a small stake he had.

Victoria spots Danny in the casino and she calls his colleagues to warn them that Sidney was already in Vegas in the hunt for Danny. Fran is the one that responds to the call and she immediately passes the news to Danny.

Danny cancels his drive and heads back to his motel doubting that somebody was following him. His suspicion serves him right, but still Sidney manages to lounge a surprise attack on him. Fortunately, the police arrive and shoot Sidney to death saving a chocking Danny.

The following dawn, Danny catches up with Fran who is on the verge of boarding a flight to Chicago. Danny confesses his love towards her and she cancels the flight. They leave together holding arms.

Review

A classic noir by William Dieterle is reason enough to admire his creativity and precise screenplay. The noir ticks all boxes if compared to other classic noirs. Neon street- lights, blurry shadows, and reflected car headlights are some but a few of the themes in the classic.

Danny Haley first seems as a gray character in the middle of a film noir. He later makes the role his by standing out in the best parts of the film. He is the only man left from his foul playing group of friends. His girlfriend, Fran Garland is a stylish singer who is deeply in love with him. Garland is determined to do anything to get Danny’s affection.

Soldier (Harry Morgan) perfectly plays the invisible assassin that attracts the attention of Danny and the entire police department. He is ready to strike anyone that was responsible for his brother’s death. Veronica plays the widowed wife. She is not easy to manipulate and she even chases Danny away. However, she is kind enough to inform Danny of Soldier’s arrival.

The director discourages crime and foul play in this noir. Danny and his greedy friends foul play a wealth man and this lands them into deep trouble. Most of them end up killed. Nevertheless, the hands on approach of Soldier is also discouraged as he is also shot dead by the police.

The backdrop of the big cities of Los Angeles and Vegas is perfectly fitted. The storyline is an amazing noir, dialogue is perfect and a few lines are memorable. However, it is more predictable. You expect Danny being the main character to get the better of the assassin. It is also evident that Danny and Fran are destined together.

Rating

Any viewer interested in action and drama would really enjoy the film. But for those expecting brains versus brawl, this film would seem underwhelmed. The producer would have come up with a better noir were it not for him restricting himself on the book in which the film is based. That said, it still manages to score 6.7 on the rating scale. Just a good one to say the least.

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