4 September 2001 | bmacv
Quick and dirty crawl through babies-for-sale racket
In Abandoned's opening shot, that iconic edifice, the Los Angeles City Hall, looms menacingly into the night sky. From then on, it's a fast, rough ride through a brutal baby-adoption racket. Gale Storm is best remembered (if at all) as TV's My Little Margie, but she co-starred in a few noirs like Underworld Story and Between Midnight and Dawn; Abandoned is the best of them. She's come to town hunting for her vanished sister, knowing only that there's an out-of-wedlock baby girl involved. Storm links up with Dennis O'Keefe, a newspaper man, and Raymond Burr, a private detective supposedly hired by the missing girl's father back east (an enigmatic specter hanging over the story: Storm confides that her sister left home because "he wouldn't leave us alone"). Turns out that Sis was murdered for developing maternal instincts after having giving the baby up. The web of baby-nappers includes grandmotherly but lethal Marjorie Rambeau, some even less savory characters behind her, and, of course, Burr. Abandoned, despite its Hollywood-"happy" finish, stands as one of the grittier offerings in the noir cycle (Burr's being tortured with matches is one especially painful speck of grit).