11 December 2006 | mackjay2
Something Rare: A Philadelphia Noir
OUTSIDE THE WALL is a solid B crime movie that delivers everything the genre promises. It's not truly a Film Noir, since it only hints at the dark workings of Fate behind the scenes. The movie might make a nice comparison with TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY, released the next year. In both films, an ex-con, newly released, runs into trouble despite their pretty naive aspirations and innocuous personalities.
Probably the main distinguishing characteristic of OUTSIDE THE WALL is the use of Philadelphia locations. It's always fascinating to see a large city back in the middle of the last century. We are usually shown L.A. or N.Y., the Pennsylvania metropolis makes a welcome change.
At the top of the cast list is Richard Basehart. Pretty much an asset in any film, Basehart carries the lead perfectly. His boyish good looks serve the character, a still-young man who never had a chance to experience the world before he was thrown into prison. When he's let out, Basehart meets a stream of women, most of them unworthy of his attentions. Marliyn Maxwell is also well-cast as a brittle, materialistic nurse whom Basehart encounters in his first legitimate job. Her influence leads him to rejoin the criminal life, and plenty of trouble ensues. Among the rest of the cast are Noir favorites, Joseph Pevney, the incredibly prolific John Hoyt and Harry Morgan (who here plays a crime boss with gusto), . Dolores Hart plays Basehart's possible love interest, while Signe Hasso is almost wasted as a money-hungry gangster's wife.