11 October 2012 | boblipton
Dark Goings On
This is a visually stunning but muddily written spy thriller. Within the first minute, the question arises: when the spy wants to send a coded message, he sets the radio to the correct channel, holds a gun on the radio operator and tells him that he know Morse Code.... so why not just slug the operator and send the message himself? It took me two viewings to begin to make any sense of the story and the second viewing was interrupted by thoughts like this. Alan Lane spends the entire movie confused and I don't blame him. It looks to me as if they were trying to do a Graham Greene movie, not realizing that Greene's work is always about moral confusion, not situational confusion. Oh, well.
The cinematography is quite lovely, but then this is the fourth RKO movie I've thought that about and discovered the DP was Frank Redman. The man started in the silents and worked through the 1960s, with over a hundred episodes of PERRY MASON -- and that was some good-looking television work. It seems to be movies like this that kept him in the Bs, though if you can find BAD LANDS -- a western he photographed in 1939 -- you'll see this one is no fluke. There's plenty of proto-Film Nor shadows in this one.
Still, this is one that, despite the lovely pictures and what sounds like a German version of "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You", I would avoid.