Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mystery History - The Dark Corner Released Today in 1946

It was on this day in 1946 that The Dark Corner was released in theaters. This under-rated noir film tells the story of an ex-con turned PI named Bradford Galt. He discovers that he's being followed by a man who claims to work for his old double crossing partner Tony Jardine.  But it's a trick. Jardine is actually the target for a murder by an art gallery owner, who simply wants to pin the murder on Galt, whose history with Jardine will make him a natural suspect. When Galt is found next to the dead Jardine, a fireplace poker in his hand, his secretary Kathleen hides him.

The movie featured several big names, including William Bendix, Clifton Webb and Lucille Ball as Galt's faithful secretary.

Most people are unaware that the woman who graced television screens in the 50s and 60s as America's Sweetheart appeared in several noir films in the 1940s. Lucille Ball gives a good performance as the loyal secretary who tries to uncover the murderer and protect Galt from a frame job. Her snappy dialogue and admiration for her employer capture the audience from the opening scene. When she's on the screen, you want to jump in and join her on the dance floor or take her for a cup of coffee. No wonder we all fell in love with her.

Dark drama just wasn't Ms Ball's forte (at least according to the studio heads). It would take a match with a Cuban musician named Desi Arnaz to place her at the top of television comedy for more than a decade. But she's a delight to watch in this movie.

Much of the film's visual appeal is due to the skillful directing of Henry Hathaway, and cinematographer Joseph MacDonald, who uses bright light mixed with shadow to set the dark mood.

Clifton Webb gives a strong performance as the art dealer who works behinds the scenes to manipulate the players. William Bendix as a shady tail holds up well. The movie got good reviews, with the New York Times calling it a "sizzling piece of melodrama."

Lucille Ball would go on to make a few more movies, including another noir, Lured, before her career would make TV history in I Love Lucy.

Lucille Ball: "Mr Galt, I think someone is following us...I've never been followed before."
Mark Stevens: "That's a terrible reflection on American manhood."

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