Fly-By-Night (1942)

  |  Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

Fly-By-Night (1942) Poster

After being charged with the murder of a scientist, a young doctor must track down a Nazi spy ring to clear his name.

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13 December 2018 | boblipton
| Let's Have a Good Look At The Maguffin
Doctor Richard Carlson is accosted by an escaped madman, babbling about a respected scientist. a train station check and G-32. While Carlson is on the telephone, the man is knifed. Carlson tries to tend to him, but the police break in and are about to arrest him, when he goes out a window and winds up in Nancy Kelly's room.

Robert Siodmak's second American feature spends its first half looking like a tired retread of Hitchcock's THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS. I grumpily noted that Nancy Kelly comes to trust him awfully rapidly and the humor is both more forced and mechanical; there's none of Robert Donat's loopy "How could this be happening to me?" humor. It's in the second half, when Carlson and Kelly are actually tracking down the Maguffin's mystery, that it goes off on its own track. At this point, the movie comes into its own, with a shocking denouement that renders it worthwhile.

Within a few years, Siodmak would be directing solid film noir movies. Given the Hitchcock background, one would think this would be an early film noir, but John Seitz' camerawork is far too American and brightly lit and cheery. When it came out, in January, there wasn't much of a noir impetus at Paramount. It wouldn't be until the fall, when Theodore Sparkuhl's camerawork on THE GLASS KEY that the company would produce a real noir.

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Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller

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