28 October 2006 | ccthemovieman-1
A Better Print Helps This Unique Noir Story
When I started watching all the film noirs I could find, I was a bit disappointed in this. However, after three viewings I now find it decent. It's nothing super, but certainly better than what I though at first. A big help is having a better print of the film. This is one of those movies that always had a poor VHS quality transfer and many times the same on DVD. Finding a good print is hard, although I finally got a decent one with this Killer Classic DVD set that includes this movie.
The story, like the print, is not always easy to follow, either, even though the premise is very simple. A man discovers he has been poisoned and there is no hope for recovery. Before he dies, he retraces his steps to find out who "murdered him" (even though he's still alive when saying that) and why.
The story gets a bit complicated. Like a Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan mystery, there are a number of suspects that keep popping up. Many of them are hard to figure.
This is an odd film noir for several quirky things in this movie. The lead character, "Frank Bigelow" (Edmund O'Brien), is strange and kind of stupid in the beginning. There are a half dozen of these dumb whistle-like wolf call sound-effects that come out every time he sees a pretty woman. It just doesn't fit in a tough film noir. Then there is his possessive girlfriend/secretary "Paula," (Pamela Britton) who is constantly calling him and paranoid about his whereabouts. She acts more like an insecure, nagging wife but she obviously cares a great deal about him. But, man, give the poor guy some space!
The dialog in this film ranges from incredibly stupid to very clever and solid film noir material.
We also see one of the most sadistic people I have ever seen on film: "Chester," played by the sadistic-looking Neville Brand. Wow, is this guy sick or what? He reminded me of "Vera" (Ann Savage) in "Detour." Those two would have made an interesting couple! Brand's character is only interested in one thing in life: inflicting pain and the slower and more brutal, the better.
Anyway, if you find a good print, tolerate some of the goofy things in the film, this is an interesting film noir that gets better with each viewing, as you understand the story better.