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USA 1947
Directed by
John Cromwell
100 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Dead Reckoning

The most appealing aspect of this crime thriller is the pairing of Humphrey Bogart with Lizabeth Scott, a marvellous screen presence who made a string of films between 1945 and 1955 but then faded from view. In a role originally intended for Rita Hayworth she is irresistibly sultry with just the right amount of duplicitousness here as Coral Chandler, the femme fatale who leads wise-guy Rip Murdock, an army Captain, on a not-so merry chase to uncover the truth about a war-time buddy who has mysteriously disappeared.

Based on a story by Gerald Drayson Adams and Sidney Biddell, the convoluted script which was cooked up by a team of five writers is a cocktail of elements seen in many 1940s noir films: flat-footed cops and sleaze-ball gangsters, cold-blooded murder and hot-blooded lust all served up with lashings of hard-boiled dialogue and a large slice of expositional voice-over as in flashback Rip tells his story to an army chaplain.

The film has some B grade elements, particularly the final confrontation between Rip and the bad guys, which is about as clumsy as it gets, Scott’s musical number is so obviously mimed as to be almost embarrassing and Cromwell seems to delight in having Bogart, who is in Philip Marlowe mode throughout, extensively knocked about whilst Morris Carnovsky is suitably urbane as a gentleman mobster with no stomach for physical violence which he delegates to his enthusiastic henchman Krause (Marvin Miller). 




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