Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Dark Corner

I very briefly mentioned a movie The Dark Corner about a year ago when it showed up on TCM, but not having seen it at the time, I figured it would be better to write about a related movie, Lured, instead, as both of them are noirs in which Lucille Ball has a starring role. The Dark Corner is back on the Fox Movie Channel schedule, tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM ET, and now that I've seen it, I can highly recommend it.

Ball plays Kathleen, the secretary to private eye Brad (Mark Stevens). Brad recently spent a two-year stretch in jail, having been framed by his former partner Tony (Kurt Kreuger). It seems as though Tony has learned Brad is now in New York, as Brad's got somebody (William Bendix) following him. As part of trying to find Tony, Brad finds wealthy art dealer Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb), who also knows Tony; after all, Tony seems to have a thing for Mrs. Cathcart. Everything comes together in an even more convoluted way when Brad returns to his apartment one night to find Tony dead on the floor, obviously having been murdered. It's clear to Brad that, dammit, he's been framed again!

Thankfully, Brad has Kathleen to help him on the case. By this time, she's fallen in love with him, and is certain of his innocence. Bill Bendix is the only lead in the case, which leads Brad and Kathleen on a frantic search to find him, before the real killer or the police does. Unfortunately, Brad's too late, as he finds Bendix thrown out of a high-rise window. Certainly, Hardy must have something to do with all this, but what? I can't really tell you that, because that would give the story away.

The Dark Corner is a nicely-photographed and well-acted noir, presenting Manhattan as at least some people saw it back in the 1940s: the el trains, the less glamorous side of life, and a lot of dark alleys. Lucille Ball shows once again that she was more than just a scatterbrained comedienne. As in Lured, she's quite good as the woman who provides the glue to the whole story. The two younger men, Stevens and Kreuger, don't particularly distinguish themselves in their performances. Webb, however, plays much the same sort of character he did in Laura a few years earlier: urbane and supremely arrogant, with a dark side to boot. Also appearing, as a police detecive watching over Brad, is Reed Hadley, who provided his voiceover to several of Fox's docudramas from the same era, including The House on 92nd Street, which is also showing up on FMC on Monday morning (at 9:30 AM).

The Dark Corner is entertaining and well worth watching. Fortunately, Fox released quite a lot of its noirs on DVD, including this one.

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