THE MAN IN THE DARK (1953)


I have a  great affection for ‘B’ pictures of Hollywood since that is where you often find actors and  Directors learning and  taking chance.   Even today the lower budget film often is  more  rewarding in story and  style.  The Lew Landers Directed MAN IN THE  DARK (1953) for  Columbia pictures is another  example.    This one has  the added fun of being  ‘police procedural” spiced up with some 3D moments  in the theater.

MAN IN THE  DARK stars Edmond O Brien doing what some might say a  repeat of D.O. A. character from outstanding 1949 film.  O Brien plays the tough then befuddled by memory loss gangster Steve Rawley who has undergone an operation to purge criminal tendencies.   Rawley  took a  ‘stretch in prison’ for a  year before  the  procedure/  The  operation is a  success and  Rawley yearns for the  happy life  of the institution’s  gardener. However his gang that he  committed a  robbery with wants the money he hid yet  now  Rawley can’t remember.

 

The gang  with names, faces and personalities straight out the Pulp stories from which they came from those being Lefty (Ted De Corsia) , Arnie (Horace McMahon) and Cookie (Nick Dennis) are  all wonderfully played   The “Femme Fatale” is supplied by none other  than Audrey Trotter.  Trotter was looking a little older due perhaps to the role yet she is well versed in female Noir .  Just to mention a few  of her accomplishments:  Trotter was at her best as  the wife or  variation of  as she showed as Richard Basehart’s mate Claire Quimby  in  MGM’S TENSION (1949) or as Julie Thompson opposite  Robert Ryan in the brilliant Noir boxing picture  THE  SETUP (1949).

The  story flows  at the gang try various means  to get the money.  Good solid action moments in the 1950’s of action  with fights, car  crashes, fairground exteriors some slightly over the  top  dialogue that made these films  wonderful to watch.   The 3D  shots do stand out in the  television version as you get  guns aimed at the audience,  a fist flies at your jaw and  even a “Brain operation’ with four surgeons looking down at you.

 

 

 

Behind the camera you have  Director Lew Landers who had prolific career in both film and  later  television.  In 1935 under the name of  “Louis Friedlander”:  Landers Directed  the seminal Classic horror film THE RAVEN with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. This picture often thought of as one of the best if not the best Lugosi/Karloff pairings and is greatly loved by fans.  It also along with THE BLACK CAT (1934) is thought to be been so uneasy for the audience that the Universal stopped producing Horror films from 1936 to 1939 as a result of  the ‘Horror Ban”.

The Editor was  the  very distinguished ‘First Lady Film Cutter’ Viola Lawrence.  Lawrence was editor on such films as  THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947),  IN A LONELY PLACE (1950), HARRIET CRAIG (1950), HERE COMES MISTER JORDAN (1941),   QUEEN KELLY (1929),  TIGHTSPOT (1955)  and  so many others

Hans J. Salter who did the music for many of the later Universal Horror picture composed some of the incidental music.

MAN IN THE  DARK (1953)  is “B” film to entertainment with some added  3D elements.  You get to watch Edmund O Brien be  tough, be confused the be tough again as  he romances and punches his way to the loot (Or does he?) and the love of  Audrey Trotter. It a real roller coaster of entertainment 1950’s  style.

Put on those  glasses.

 

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