Friday, January 25, 2002


This movie is often named as an archetypal film noir, but it's really closer to being just a run-of-the-mill mystery. Its post-war attitude of gloom and a few nighttime wet streets are as close as it comes to noir. Alan Ladd and his buddies (William Benedix & Hugh Beaumont) return from the war without much in the way of future prospects. Benedix has a metal plate in his head and suffers from paranoia and blackouts when exposed to loud music. Ladd is pessimistic about his homecoming with his wife, and in fact, she's been living it up with others while he was away, specifically shady character Howard Da Silva (Ben Franklin in 1776). The scene where Ladd busts in on a little house party that his wife is having is about as exciting as the movie gets. The next morning, Ladd's wife winds up dead and both Da Silva and Benedix are suspects (as is Ladd, who the police are chasing, although we know he didn't do it). Veronica Lake is Da Silva's estranged wife who meets up accidently with Ladd and helps him find the real murderer. Ladd and Lake are lovely to look at (at times, they look like twins), but Lake's no femme fatale here, even though she certainly has the look down pat. The happy ending feels a bit empty, as does the out-of-left-field solution to the murder.

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