Somewhere in the Night

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Somewhere in the Night (1946, B+W, 20th C. Fox).
Written & Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (House of Strangers, All About Eve).
            This is a John Hodiak picture.  For most of my life I knew him from Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Lifeboat’, of course, and Judy Garland’s ‘The Harvey Girls’.  He was good, but I never sought out him in anything else.  I often even avoided seeing his films.  Then in getting to know some Fox films noir I came across this film.
            It is compelling from the very beginning.  An unknown hero seeking his unknown past.  Soon, he is under the eye of the police and various dangerous people.  In a nightclub he takes refuge in the dressing room of a young singer (played by Nancy Guild – pronounced as in wild, as the Ads said.).  She enlists the help of her boss, played by Richard Conte.  A shadowy character himself, he runs the Club she sings in.  The extremes of our hero’s trap are Lloyd Nolan as a cop, who knows more than he tells, but tells enough for you to know he’s watching you, and the legendary Fritz Kortner (Pandora’s Box, The Razor’s Edge) as the head of a low-rent gang of thugs.  All of them seek a lost $2 million dollars, which can be found only through our unknown hero.  A good complex plot, full of darkness and untrustworthy characters played by great actors, all after a Macguffin.  Soon I was loving every minute of the film.
            It’s not just the stars, but Margo Woode plays an amazing tough chick who puts on airs because she speaks a little French.  Then, there are the two gems of performances: Josephine Hutchinson as a young woman aging too fast due to loneliness, and Housely Stevenson as her father, locked in an asylum because he saw too much.  This is a dark film but you don’t notice, because it is so polished.  Check it out. – EdeF.

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