This is an interesting film, but not because it’s the most awesome film noir ever made.
It begins in media res, with a federal agent named Rigby (fans of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, feel free to laugh) staring moodily into a rain-lashed window, pondering how he’d gotten where he was in narration. The rain-lashed window magically turns into a flashback.
We learn that Rigby (played by Robert Taylor) is there to investigate a black market racket in war-surplus aircraft parts. His targets are a married couple, Tug Hintten (played by John Hodiak) and his wife, Elizabeth (played by Ava Gardner). He also meets a bunch of sweaty people on the island of Carlotta (that’s right, keep laughing), including shady dude J.J. Bealer (played by Charles Laughton) and a boozy ex-pilot named Carwood (played by Vincent Price).
The plot is, well, I don’t think predictable is quite the word. It’s just so familiar. At times, the movie almost smacks of slightly dark romantic suspense or noir-ish melodrama, which is a shame. Because the actors in this thing are so awesome. And the choreography of the ending is amazing.
So, it’s not great film noir. It’s fun, it’s got intrigue, sweaty people, and a guy in a white suit balanced on the horns of a dilemma. How much can he trust his instinct for people? Who can he trust in this situation? What he thinks is the truth may actually be a complete misunderstanding. Or is it? Those are the questions driving this particular protagonist, through a plot that may miss a few steps here and there.
If nothing else, it’s a good for a few laughs, as you recognize the players from Steve Martin’s movie.
Four stars for effort? 🙂
This is a good one to MST3K your way through! 🙂
If only Humphrey Bogart could’ve been in this! 🙂
Directed by Robert Z. Leonard
Produced by Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay by Marguerite Roberts