This Side of the Law (1950)

Approved   |    |  Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

This Side of the Law (1950) Poster

David Cummings, a vagrant, is bailed out of jail by Philip Cagle, an attorney, who hires him to impersonate a missing millionaire, whose presence is necessary in order to distribute a ... See full summary »


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21 March 2012 | dougdoepke
Solid Little Noir
A vagrant is bribed into impersonating a millionaire as part of an inheritance scheme. The trouble is he gets more than he bargained for.

I'm not sure why this little noir-- and it is a noir (hand of fate, a web of intrigue, a spider woman, & dark atmosphere)-- remains so obscure. This Warner Bros. entry may not be top-flight, but it is respectable. That opening scene with the pin-light on Cummins' (Smith) ravaged face is a grabber. Several other moody scenes emerge along the way, plus a neat plot twist, that makes this thriller an entertaining 70-minutes.

I'm guessing one reason for the film's obscurity is the cast, especially the lead, Kent Smith. He performs well enough. The trouble is he lacks screen presence, almost fading into the background at times. On the other hand, Lindfors and Paige split the women's time, such that neither is able to establish much presence of her own. John Alvin, however, comes across vividly in the thankless role of the weakling brother. Also, I'm surprised director Bare manages the dark material as well as he does, given that his previous career was exclusively with comedy shorts. (Note, for example, how Cummins has to work at getting a name off the ID bracelet—a good realistic touch.)

Nothing memorable here, just a solid little noir.

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