My buddy Kelly Greene and I watched SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT the other day. It was the first time for both of us to see this 1946 film noir.
John Hodiak stars as George Taylor, an amnesiac WWII soldier who returns home to Los Angeles in search of his true identity and a mysterious man named "Larry Cravat". He's aided in his search by Christy Smith (the lovely Nancy Guild), nightclub owner Mel Phillips (Richard Conte) and police detective Donald Kendall (Lloyd Nolan). Taylor soon runs afoul of a small gang of crooks taken right out of the MALTESE FALCON playback. It seems there's two million dollars in cash missing, cash that the elusive "Cravat" knows the location of and thus, everyone is searching for him.
It's not too hard to figure out what the twist is here. I saw it coming from a mile away and you probably will too. Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz from a screenplay by Howard Dimsdale and Mankiewicz (from a story by Marvin Borowsky), SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT begins promisingly enough but it stalls out in the second act and never quite regains its' momentum. Taylor follows a lot of false leads, there's lot of talk and the pace slows to a crawl. There's not much tension generated by the story which seems to take forever to get to the payoff. The running time is 110 minutes but I could swear it seemed much, much longer than that.
A big part of the problem is that John Hodiak has little to none screen presence. He's just not a good enough actor to carry a film like this. The fetching Nancy Guild is okay but it's the supporting cast that really shines here. Genre icon Conte is solid as usual while character actors Whit Bissell and Harry Morgan have small, but effective scenes.
SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT is worth seeing at least once, especially if you're a noir fan. If this film is your first exposure to film noir, you may wonder what all the fuss is about.