Like many actors of his era, Dane Clark found himself overseas during the fifties making films in authentic European locations. In this case Clark was working at the famed Hammer Films studio for producer Michael Carreras and house director Terence Fisher.
Before striking cinema gold with reviving the Gothic horror film, Hammer studios filmed a large number of low budget Noir thrillers. Many with actors who at one time were under contact to the major studios in Hollywood. People like Paul Henreid and Lizabeth Scott.
In Noir fashion, Clark finds himself drawn into a murder plot by a sultry blonde played by stunning Belinda Lee. With Dane intoxicated, Lee lures him into trouble with the promise of five hundred pounds. Down on his luck Clark takes the bait.
The next morning he awakens in a strange place. With no recollection of the night before he finds he has the money in his pocket and some incriminating blood stains on his jacket. Tracing his steps backwards leads him to dig into the identity of the gorgeous Lee. With the police looking for the mystery man who is Clark, Lee pops up. It seems that she is the daughter of a wealthy man who is our murder victim. She claims her innocence to Dane and wants him to help her solve the crime. Considering his options, he doesn`t have much of a choice.
Out comes the overcoat and the classic Noir look as Dane goes about muscling information out of a couple of suspects and delivering a classic line to a would be punching bag. `Maybe you better lie down,` says our crime hunter as his fist connects with the chin of our victim. Dane Clark was well suited to this role after working in the Warner Brothers stable with the likes of Garfield and Bogart.
The plot gets a little heavy as the twists come fast and loose down the stretch but Clark gives it that little something extra to keep the film moving along and watchable. Belinda Lee has a beauty that lights up the screen for this 87 minute black and white entry. Sadly she was killed in a car crash at the age of 26 in 1961.
Director Fisher would prove to be one of the studios biggest assets along with Lee and Cushing. During their fist wave of horror re-imaginings it is Fisher that was the man behind the camera bringing new life to the classics in all new blood red color.
This film was released in a group of Hammer Noir volumes by VCI and is a must for Hammer enthusiasts. You guessed it, people just like me.
Generally, these Hammer noir pictures that came out of the deal with Lippert are pretty good, although some are obviously stronger. It’s been a couple of years since I watched this film yet I remember enjoying it – it quite consciously apes the US noir style, helped along by the presence of Clark.
To me, Clark never seemed to have as successful as career in Hollywood some early roles suggested he might have and he drifted to Europe and then television fairly quickly.
Some of those Lippert/Hammer films are hit and miss for sure. Nice casting in some with Dan Duryea, Richard Conte etc. AS for Dane, yes even caught him in a few episodes of Police Woman last year.
Nice writeup of a great little movie — thanks! Blackout is of course the US title; the real title is Murder by Proxy!
— signed, A Brit
I knew it had the other title and actually had meant to bring it up. So many films did that back in that Era. Not really sure why. Fun little mystery with Dane right at home.
Yep — it’s odd, isn’t it, especially since the US title was so often less evocative than the original; you could understand it as a marketing ploy if the new title were better, but more often it seems to be a change made just for the sake of making a change! The worst example I can think of offhand is Yield to the Night (1956), a bleak (and very good!) piece in which Diana Dors awaits execution; in the US it became Blonde Sinner.
No lie, I almost put this in the player last week but (typically) got distracted by other movies, so I will have to make sure to check it out after reading your neat review.
Have fun with it. A nice time filler from Terence Fisher.
If you’re interested in a little more on Belinda Lee’s B movie career:
Always looking to learn new details of the past. Thanks.