Dark City (1950)

Dark City (1950), directed by William Dieterle.

How's that for a film noir title? Add a Franz Waxman score, Edith Head costumes, photography by Victor Milner and the circle is complete.


Danny Haley: Are we under arrest?

Capt. Garvey: No, guys like you seldom get arrested. You get killed first.

Charlton Heston (in his first Hollywood role) is a heartless gambler and leader of a group of other tough guys. In a poker game they fleece an out of town businessman who goes back to his hotel and hangs himself. Turns out he has a brother with a fearsome reputation who now stalks the group. The tough guys have reason to be worried.

It's a great setup and a strong drama throughout, although the noir tone stalls a bit in the middle. Heston has a girl who is crowding him: Lizabeth Scott, singing a few too many nightclub songs (dubbed). Dean Jagger is a humane police detective who tries to convince Heston he is not as bad as he thinks he is. Heston travels to LA and then Las Vegas to try to get a lead on the avenging brother, and there is a guilty interlude with the widow and her little boy.

King of the Uglies Mike Mazurki (he's everywhere!) is the murderously psychotic brother; we see his face only in the final minutes. Jack Webb and Harry Morgan, later together on Dragnet, are members of the gang. And spot leprechaun Walter Burke behind the bar.

I liked this one quite a lot. It's about the redemption of a fallen man.