4 April 2012 | The_Dying_Flutchman
Pretending the Night has No Eyes
What would it have been like if David Lynch were sitting in the director's chair in the golden age of film noir? This picture might give a hint of what it may have looked like. The thing is populated with phantoms inhabiting the bodies of some of the screen's most dastardly character types. There goes Charles Middleton posing as a butler from the nether regions. And here comes a young doctor in the guise of Charles Drake. I wonder what else he cuts up when he slithers out the door in the evening? And then there's the film's handsome, middle aged, Albert Dekker, in a bravura performance as an embezzler. He continually wrings his hands and worries about other fantasies that are too diseased for the light of night. He becomes obsessed and woefully paranoid about "those who are coming" to get him. He locks himself into his "fine and private" room there to gorge himself on a worthless diet of potted meats and stale crackers. His self perpetuated madness takes on epic proportions as he tries to get away from his internal horror and this makes for the ultimate bad choice in causing him to forfeit his life in a most chilling manner.
This is truly a low budget nightmare noir filmed with consummate skill and gusto by the German cinematographer John Alton before his career with the terrific director Anthony Mann. The two of them made some of the finest film noirs to grace the screen. Also, this particular picture uses forced perspective and scrunched miniatures to add to its otherworldly view. In the end, it is probably W.Lee Wilder, Billy's older brother's best attempt behind the camera. He wouldn't manage to trod any meaner streets than these again.