Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where Danger Lives

Monday, September 29, 2008

This is my third and final Robert Mitchum movie for noir month, after The Big Steal and Angel Face:

Notable Talent: Beyond Mitchum, Claude Rains has a small role. Faith Domergue is the female lead, but all I know about her is that the blonde girl from Lars and the Real Girl played her in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.

Detective Story: I guess this is sort of a road/crime movie, lovers on the lam, maybe? Except it's a really weird one. Hard to say what it is exactly, except that it has some distinct noir elements.

Twisty, Turny Plot: Hoo-boy. Where to begin. Where Danger Lives edges out Decoy for strangest Noir Month entry. Mitchum plays an E.R. doctor who falls for a strange, suicidal woman in the hospital, played by Domergue, who seems to be under the thumb of her overbearing father. Only, maybe things aren't exactly what they seem to be... I won't say too much, but Mithcum and Domergue end up on the run together, and Mitchum spends 75% of the movie with a serious concussion that impairs his ability to think clearly. Further complications ensue.

Moral Ambiguity: Well, I think the Mitchum character wants to do the right thing, but then the shit hits the fan and he gets a concussion and things go all wrong. Domergue convinces him to go on the run, but it becomes clear pretty soon that she's not entirely on the level and is manipulating him. She plays an interesting spin on the femme fatale: a mentally ill femme fatale. Seriously, this bitch is crazy. It's pretty clear who's good and bad here, and the fun is in watching Domergue manipulate the injured, confused Mitchum.

Sweet-ass, Shadowy Black and White Cinematography: Well, it ain't exactly Gregg Toland quality filming, but the weirdness and psychological aspects of the movie allow them to play up all the cockeyed shadows and shit. A weird look for a weird movie.

Overall Quality: This is not my favorite Noir Month selection by a long shot, but it may be the one I'm most likely to randomly pop on some time when I'm bored. Back when I watched Decoy, I commented that it wasn't a very good movie, but it was made kinda fun by it's oddness and desire to entertain. Well, Where Danger Lives is like that, only it's also a decent movie. The arc of the story could be pretty run of the mill, but the treatment of it is so offbeat that it stands out as one of the more fun movies I've watched this month.

Only one more movie left after this one:

1) The Set Up
2) Act of Violence
3) Crime Wave
4) Night and the City
5) The Big Steal
6) The Wrong Man
7) Where Danger Lives
8) Illegal
9) Angel Face
10) Shoot the Piano Player
11) Gun Crazy
12) Mystery Street
13) Side Street
14) Decoy
15) They Live By Night

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