"I'm easier to frame than Whistler's Mother."
Here's a sure sign I'm either getting old or have way too many DVDs in my collection. Back in August, TCM ran THE DARK CORNER, a 1946 film noir directed by Henry Hathaway. It sounded like a good one from the listing description and I hadn't seen it so I recorded it and finally got around to watching it the other day After watching it, I went to the film noir section of my DVD collection (yes, I have a film noir section) and found a brand new, never opened copy of the film sitting on my shelf. I guess that should teach me to double check my collection before hitting that record button on the remote.
THE DARK CORNER is a good film noir, drenched in atmosphere courtesy of cinematographer Joseph MacDonald with a pretzel plot by screenwriters Bernard C. Schoenfeld and Jay Dratler (from a story by Leo Rosten). Mark Stevens stars as private detective Bradford Galt. He's aided by plucky secretary Kathleen (Lucille Ball, who gets top billing). A mysterious man named Foss (William Bendix) is following the pair around New York City. When Galt confronts Foss, he reveals that he's working for Tony Jardine (Kurt Kreuger). Jardine, a blackmailing attorney, is Galt's former partner. Thinking Jardine is out to kill him, Galt goes after Jardine.
SPOILER WARNING: It turns out that Foss is really working for art dealer Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb). Jardine is sleeping with Cathcart's wife, Mari (the lovely Cathy Downs). Cathcart hopes to goad Galt into murdering Jardine. If that doesn't work, there's always Plan B, which is have Foss kill Jardine and frame Galt. Got all that?
The plot has plenty of twists and turns, the dialogue is both hard-boiled and witty, and the leads are all solid. While watching the film, I kept thinking that if someone had made a Doc Savage film in 1946, the cast could have included Bendix as Monk and Webb as Ham. Kathleen's devotion, concern and love for Galt ultimately saves him from his inner darkness and the film ends on a happy note despite the fact that three people are brutally murdered in the course of events. Not a great film noir but a solid effort that is well worth seeing. Recommended.