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.