Sunday, February 25, 2024

1:08 Courage

A have a tendency to record the movies that Eddie Muller picks for Noir Alley in part because of the likelihood they'll be interesting, and in part for Eddie's presentation of the movies. One that I hadn't seen before was Two O'Clock Courage, which ran several months back. I've finally gotten around to watching it, so now it's time for the review.

The movie opens with a man on a corner of two city streets at night, with a cut on his head from which he's bleeding. He seems a bit out of it and, in trying to cross the street, is nearly run down by a taxi. The driver, Patty Mitchell (Ann Rutherford), gets out, and realizes that there's something wrong with this man. This becomes even more obvious when we learn that the man (Tom Conway) is an amnesiac! (As Eddie mentioned, amnesia seems a way overused plot device in noirs, although Two O'Clock Courage is really more of a mystery than a noir.)

To help the man figure out who he is, Patty has him look through his pockets; perhaps he's got some ID or something that will help jog his memory as to who he is. The somethings suggest that his initials might be D and R, and that he's been to the Regency Hotel. That's not much, so Patty offers to take the man to a police station, where they're more likely to be able to help. However, when they get to the local police precinct, they see someone hawking a newspaper. The screaming headline announces the murder of one Robert Dilling, famous theater producer. The story gives a description of a possible suspect, and that description fits our amnesiac fairly well!

Patty decides to do something that gives us a movie. If she just turned the man over to police, we wouldn't have much of a movie, so she suggests that the man get out of town. He feels he has to prove his innocence, so stays in town, and she decides to spend her shift helping the man as the two of them go about trying to solve the mystery. It seems like a daft idea, should cost Patty a day's pay at least since she's not picking up any fares, and ought to get her charged with aiding and abetting or obstruction of justice. But as I said, we wouldn't have a movie otherwise.

Needless to say, it's not too long before Patty and the amnesiac are found by others, investigating police detective Brenner (Emory Parnell) and reporter Al Haley (Richard Lane). Patty makes matters worse for her and her companion by making up a giant lie about the two of them having just gotten married and him being Clarence Smith, a reporter from Dayton who just stumbled on his case and decided to mix business with pleasure. But at least it's a way not to get thrown off the case.

The murder mystery gets ever more complicated, although at least our amnesiac is able to discover his identity halfway through the movie, one Ted Allison. Ted was in town over a play that a now deceased man (not the murder victim) wrote, and which is now the subject of a royalty dispute. Perhaps all of that might have had something to do with the murder. But who killed Dilling, and why? And was it Allison?

To be honest, you probably shouldn't think too hard to try to solve the murder mystery in Two O'Clock Courage. It's convoluted, and not particularly realistic. The movie straddles the line between post-war noirs with the amnesia (hence why Eddie selected this one for Noir Alley and the comedic murder mysteries that had been a big thing in the late 1930s and early 1940s. (The movie was released in mid-1945.) Being a B movie at only 68 minutes, Two O'Clock Courage doesn't try too hard, but that's something that really works in the movie's favor. It's the sort of thing you should sit back and relax with, rather than the closer attention that prestige movies demanded.

Tom Conway is good in his role; it's a shame that he didn't become quite as succesful as his brother George Sanders. Ann Rutherford also does well. And well down the credits as Helen, one of the beautiful young things Allison knows at the Regency, is a woman credited as Bettejane Greer. If you didn't guess it from the opening credits, that is indeed a young Jane Greer, who would go on to at least one big thing with Out of the Past.

Two O'Clock Courage is definitely worth watching if you can find it.

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