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Man In The Dark (1953)

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Edmond O’Brien. The name alone puts us right into the world of Noir cinema. Star of The Killers, White Heat and D.O.A. to name a few. This time out Eddie is an incarcerated gangster undergoing a medical procedure right out of a Boris Karloff thriller. Experimental surgery has wiped his memory slate clean in hopes of rehabilitating him under a new name. The procedure appears to be a success which doesn’t sit well with the old gang led by crime film regular Ted de Corsia as well as love interest and Noir specialist Audrey Totter. After all, he hid the $130 000 from the payroll heist and the gang wants their share. Kidnapped, beaten and loved the  memories start to stir and O’Brien plays it cool and tough when needed. Like any good Noir thriller we are treated to a flashback of the heist.

The film was directed by “B unit” specialist Lew Landers who’s career dated back to the early 30’s when he was working under the name Louis Friedlander. He was behind the camera for the Karloff-Lugosi terror filled The Raven in 1935. He would move into television directing shows like Bat Masterson before his death in 1962. The film was made at the height of the first 3-D wave and the producer Wallace MacDonald utilized the method for this film so expect anything from a lit cigar to a punch flying out towards your seat.

Ted de Corsia was one of my favorite heavies of the period and appeared in the ensemble classic from Stanley Kubrick The Killing among others. Our leading lady Audrey Totter was well accustomed to Noir thrillers by this time having teamed with Robert Ryan in The Set Up, Robert Taylor in High Wall not to mention appearing in arguably the best of them all, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Fairly predictable but at a running time of 70 minutes it’s time well spent and with Edmond O’Brien in the lead how can one complain.

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