Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Movies I've Missed (Until Now): Somewhere in the Night

I’ve been trying to catch up on some older movies, and the plot of this one from 1946 sounded intriguing: a GI comes back from combat in the South Pacific with amnesia, a fact that he conceals from his doctors. Everybody tells him his name is George Taylor. When he gets back to the States he sets out to discover who George Taylor is. His only clue is a fragment of a letter from a woman who’s angry with him for breaking up with her, but he soon finds another, a letter addressed to George Taylor from someone named Larry Cravat, telling him that a bank account has been opened in his name. So the first step in finding out his true identity is to find the mysterious Larry Cravat.

You see the big twist coming already, don’t you? You will if you watch the movie, too. But that won’t spoil it for you, because the fun is in watching everything play out in pure film noir fashion, as Taylor’s quest gets him involved with vicious mobsters, small-time grifters, a pretty torch singer, missing millions, and of course a murder for which the cops blame him, so he has to track down the real killer and clear his name before he can be arrested. The Gold Medal writers who came along a few years later had to have watched this and dozens of similar movies.

Sporting a pencil-thin mustache that looks a little silly today, John Hodiak makes an earnest but somewhat goofy protagonist. He’s well-supported by a great cast, though, including Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, Sheldon Leonard (in only one scene but really fun to watch, as always), Harry Morgan (likewise), and the ubiquitous Whit Bissell. SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT is a pretty minor film but still entertaining. If you like noirish thrillers from the Forties and haven’t seen it, you ought to give it a try.


Richard Robinson said...

Never herd of it, but it looks great! I'll get my hands on a copy to watch during the upcoming rainy weather here on the left coast.

Rittster said...

A perfect characterization of this movie. A minor noir, with not the best choice for leading man, but certainly worth watching for noir fans. Sheldon Leonard--another of my favorite character actors. A Damon Runyon character come to life.

Vince said...

The best parts of this movie are in the margins: Lloyd Nolan (Mike Shayne!) as the cop, and Margo Woode in her too-brief appearance. She has one of my favorite lines ever: "Oh, we're having repartee, are we?"

pattinase (abbott) said...

Never heard of it either but it looks like fun.

Richard Robinson said...

Netflix has it. It's at the top of my queue as of this morning.

Anonymous said...

I was reading Eddie Muller's noir books and recognize the actors' names in this one. I'll look for the film. I have Lloyd Nolan as Mike Shayne on DVD and still haven't seen it. I will soon.

Ed Lynskey