Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.
What a moody, dark, steamy, dangerous drama. The story is a little clunky at times, but with this much atmosphere, who cares? Between classic early Anthony Mann (the director) and classic early John Alton (the cinematographer), there is no doubt about wanting to get sucked in, dragged down, swept away, and wowed. It really is a beautiful, brooding movie.
The key theme is escape, as a convict is on the run and he takes two women with him, one his girlfriend who is sort of "bad" and one an admirer who is basically "good." The two don't get along of course, and in the process of fleeing from one situation to another (pretty much always at night) we see the man switch from one kind of woman to another. This man is Dennis O'Keefe, who is strong and almost better here because he isn't well known and there is no baggage from other movies and other roles. The women are played by Claire Trevor, who is terrific, and Marsha Hunt, who is not--though she holds her own. Other smaller parts are gritty and impressive, including Raymond Burr as a very bad man, always photographed from below so he seems sinister.
If the escape and the running were the whole movie, it would have been compact and effective, a tight little piece following these three on the road, hiding, and eventually fighting for their survival. There is one odd and highly improbable scene were they happen upon another criminal running from the police. It's good drama, but too coincidental, out in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Otherwise the parts are strong, the story well paced.
And the visuals just stunning. That's the biggest reason to watch. And get pulled away.
- Jul 26, 2011