by Brad Nelson
A terrific bit of film noir that, unfortunately, gets bogged down a bit by an overly complicated plot and an ending that doesn’t match the smartness of the rest of the film. That’s the bad news.
The good news is this is one of more well-styled black-and-white films from the 40’s. It is the quintessential “old movie.” It’s well-acted, in that old-movie sort of way, and the dialogue is superb throughout. A tweak here or there and this would have been a classic. As it is, it’s very very good and quite watchable.
A man wakes up in a battlefield aid station messed up pretty badly and with his mouth wired shut from a broken jaw. He’s in WWII and he fell on a grenade but he’ll recover. The problem is, he doesn’t know who he is. He has amnesia.
He is soon discharged and heads to California following the only clues he has about his identity. And while trying to find an old friend, he discovers he’s somehow involved in something that happened three years ago and he’s not sure what part he played in the caper or what the caper was. But everyone is suddenly interested in his return to CA.
Along the way he crosses paths with a lovely old-movie sort of girl, one with big hair, a clever smile, and nice face. In a movie such as this, she’s known as a “dame.” She can sing and play the piano as well, and even looks good slinking around the waterfront. But I might have to watch this again just because many of the elements of the plot went by so fast I couldn’t keep up.
But this is a good mystery that unfolds before your eyes. You know as little about what is going on as the main character. And, again, some of the dialogue is to die for. Very good. The best. Overall, I give this one 3.5 watch-the-hell-out-when-crossing-the-roads out of 5.
This definition from Wiki:
Film noir (/fɪlm nwɑr/; French pronunciation: [film nwaʁ]) is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood’s classical film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fictionthat emerged in the United States during the Great Depression.
The term film noir, French for “black film,” first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, was unrecognized by most American film industry professionals of that era. Cinema historians and critics defined the category retrospectively. Before the notion was widely adopted in the 1970s, many of the classic films noirs were referred to as melodramas.[a] Whether film noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.
Film noir encompasses a range of plots: the central figure may be a private eye (The Big Sleep), a plainclothes policeman (The Big Heat), an aging boxer (The Set-Up), a hapless grifter (Night and the City), a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime (Gun Crazy), or simply a victim of circumstance (D.O.A.). Although film noir was originally associated with American productions, films now so described have been made around the world. Many pictures released from the 1960s onward share attributes with film noir of the classical period, and often treat its conventions self-referentially. Some refer to such latter-day works as neo-noir. The clichés of film noir have inspired parody since the mid-1940s.
This movie is not available on Netflix. You can find it used on DVD at Amazon.com for as little as $3.49.