Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Danger Lives (1950)

"If you take her, it's a long road!
There's no turning back!"

- Robert Mitchum turns in another great performance here in Where Danger Lives (1950) as Dr. Jeff Cameron, displaying a range of emotions and emitting his distinctive brand of charisma and screen presence. Dr. Jeff Cameron has everything going for him. He has a good job at a hospital (and a chance to go into private practice) doing what he loves to do: helping people. Mitchum makes the role work with considerable ease, bringing out the intelligence and good-nature of his character. On a day like any other, Cameron's life is unexpectedly changed when Margo Lannington (Faith Domergue) is wheeled into his hospital after trying to commit suicide. They fall in love, and just as quickly as things start to heat up between them, things start to turn dark and deadly. Faith Domergue is also pretty good as Margo Lannington - the very definition of a femme fatale: beautiful, deceiving, and of course taking advantage of Jeff's poor decision-making regarding women. However, she has her fair share of really weak moments - a better actress could have easily improved the character and, subsequently, the entire film. But Domergue was one of RKO Studio owner Howard Hughes' squeezes at the time so Mitchum got stuck with her.

Where Danger Lives has an excellent look with crisp direction and atmospheric cinematography. Cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca (Out Of The Past (1947))  sure knows how to light a film by using a lack thereof and gives Where Danger Lives a fantastic dark and atmospheric picture. The camera views and movements also give the film an eye-catching fluidity and add hugely to the film's great look. The script for Where Danger Lives (written by Charles Bennett, who worked on a number of Alfred Hitchock films) is solid with an engaging story full of mystery and suspense centered around an interesting Jeff Cameron character. The dialogue is not extremely clever or smart however, but it certainly gets the job done and is plenty entertaining.

Overall, with its captivating story and great Robert Mitchum performance, Where Danger Lives is an entertaining film noir.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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