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USA 1954
Directed by
Richard Quine
88 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


A twenty-year old Kim Novak made her screen debut as Lona McLane, a curvaceous femme fatale who lures Detective Paul Sheridan (Fred MacMurray) to his doom, in this surprisingly good late film noir. Whilst Production Code coyness is evident in the opening section which sees Sheridan pick up McLane, a gangster’s moll (clearly much younger than he), and take her back to his bachelor pad but a bit of up-close and personal double entendre banter with bra-less Novak in a form-fitting dress beneath an ample fur coat leaves little to guesswork.

Aside from Novak’s evident charms (which in no way are a substitute for a strong performance) the film is well-plotted and written by Roy Huggins conflating stories by Thomas Walsh and William S. Ballinger whilst Quine directs efficiently keeping the tension taut as the jaded Sheridan step-by-step enmeshes himself in a web of deceit as he tries to get the money and the girl and in the best noir tradition winds up with nothing but a couple of slugs from a .45 in his back.

MacMurray in a role not dissimilar to the one he played in the noir classic Double Indemnity (1944). if still having a certain incongruous suburban wholesomeness but now ten years older is here better suited to the role of the morally compromised cop whilst Dorothy Malone plays a nurse (you can see her at work in The Killer That Stalked New York, 1950) living next door to McLane who is keen on Sheridan’s stake-out partner (Phil Carey).

FYI: Alfred Hitchcock's classic surveillance/voyeur movie Rear Window. came out the same year. Quine would direct Novak in three more movies, the best and last being Strangers When We Meet (1960) whilst Novak had the good fortune to be cast as the female lead in Hitchcock's iconic Vertigo in 1958.




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