Somewhere in the Night

Lesser noir is fun. Like all noir, it's generally filled with Famous Character Actors of the Golden Age: faces that started looking 35 when they were barely 20 and never looked too pretty to begin with, your Harry Morgans and Thelma Ritters as opposed to your Alan Ladds and Veronica Lakes. But with lesser noir, whatever didn't make it to the top of the pile along with The Maltese Falcon or Double Indemnity, you get to figure out what about it didn't work. Somewhere in the Night is chockablock with Famous Character Actors, Harry Morgan is so far down the list, he's not even credited, and sports direction by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and story adaptation by Lee Strasberg (er...come to think of it, that could be the problem right there).

But if you ask me, what doesn't quite work about it is that its stars we say, 'less than luminary'? John Hodiak has a reasonably long IMDb, but he also sports this farkakte moustache that says "dashing-but-dangerous leading man" less than it does "Rodolfo 'Chance is the fool's name for fate' Tonetti". And Nancy Guild ("Rhymes with 'wild!'"), while unquestionably hot, is...well, when you've done almost as many films as you have husbands, it's no wonder you're not a household name 50 years later.

The story, an amnesia plot with a pretty predictable twist, is good-ish noir, and whoever lit and styled the thing did a damned fine job, but the really absorbing, fun element of the film is (are?) the performances.

Not as much fun as the new Wallace & Gromit DVD release, of course (run! don't walk!), but not a bad way to pass a late-Friday night.

Bourbon optional. Well, in some households, anyway.

xxx c

OTHER FILM NOIR REVIEWED HERE: Out of the Past, with Robert Mitchum

Image via the loathsome whose so-called customer support makes the USPS look like Neiman-Marcus.