14 July 2005 | silverscreen888
Underrated Noir Effort;; Moody, Intelligent and Exciting Start to Finish
Almost everyone says the same thing about this very-well-done noir mystery. they wish someone other than George Raftrhad performed the part. He played the son of a sea captain., When his father's ship drifts into port with no one aboard, he does not accept that his father had absconded or committed a crime; he goes into action trying to find out what really happened, stay alive, and clear his father's name. Of course the company's owners deny any knowledge of what had happened. So Raft has to end up romancing one of their women and enlisting the reluctant help of a frightened girl who knows more than she is telling before he can ferret out the murderers, who were robbers on a grand scale as well. Frank Gruber and Steve Fisher were responsible for this taut and fast-moving screenplay; the film was directed in B/W by Edward L. Marion, and he deserves most of the credit for the excellence it achieves in many departments. He is helped bu the cinematography of Harry J. Wild, art direction by veterans Albert S. d'Agostino and Jack Okey, the fine set decorations by Darrell Silvera and William Stevens, costume designs by Reni and Leigh Harline's jazz film score counterpointed by Paul Francis Webster's songs and Hoagy Carmichael's prior compositions used in the film. In the very good cast, the viewer should note besides Raft, who as some reviewers have noted, tends not to have nuances but does well as a one-note line reader, Marvin Miller, Margaret Wycherly, Signe Hasso, Hoagy Carmichael as a cabdriver named Celestial O'Brien, Claire Trevor, Lowell Gilmore, J. Farrel MacDonald and Mack Gray. Much of the movie was shot in low light, or simulated night, or fog or cramped quarters. This makes Marin's directing achievement all the more impressive. The pace works like a stopwatch; and the relationships between strong characters is carried out well in dialogue, in actions and in interactions of a peaceable or a violent sort. With a great lead, the film would be a classic; but Trevor and Hasso are very good indeed and Miller has an interesting character to play for once. Catch this one.