Monday, June 13, 2011

Quicksand (1950)

Pocket Noir

- Mickey Rooney summed up his Quicksand experience with a short quip: "It was aptly titled - we sank it." The film might not have been so successful as to allow Rooney to do backstrokes in gold coins but it is a terrific little film noir.

Rooney stars as Dan Brady and gives what at least should be in the running for his very best performance of his very long career. Brady is just an average young man working as an auto mechanic by day and living as fun and free as he can by night with his eye on the sultry Vera Novak (having recently moved on from his loyal girlfriend as soon as the word "marriage" made its first appearance).

Jeanne Cagney (yes, she is the younger sister of James Cagney) gives a sharp portrayal of Vera. Cagney's Vera is one of the most underrated femme fatales of the entire film noir genre - Cagney brings her beauty and presence to the screen without even lifting a finger but she also allows the audience to both root for and hate her character at the same time, which is an exercise that I find fun in watching a femme fatale.

The film's plot grows into noir territory - and *noir* it certainly is, Quicksand gets as visually dark as the best of them - when Brady decides to take $20 from the register at work for his first date with Vera. What's the big deal? A friend of his owes him $20 anyway and Brady plans to replace the money before his register is counted.... Unfortunately for Brady, his register is counted earlier than expected and he slips and continues to fall down a dark hole of crime and danger as a result.

Quicksand is a short formulaic film noir with everything film noir is known for: a likable fall guy, a darling femme fatale, dark picture, crime, desperation - just add water and you have a cool little thriller.

CBC Rating: 8/10

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