Lucille Ball, with enough make-up trowelled on to feed pancakes to a family of seven, gets top billing in The Dark Corner (1946), a slightly raunchy film noir co-starring Mark Stephens as Chandleresque private eye Brad Galt, & Lucy as his secretary.
Lucy was at her physical peak for just such a noir performance, if only she could've gotten about half the face paint scraped off. Secretary Kathleen was potentially a good role for Lucy, & she didn't have many of those before television.
But at the time she was going through a depression, thought she was being tossed into B-factory crud, & made less of an effort than she should've, for a film she did not believe in.
Galt is a bit of a bully & certainly a drunk. He has newly set up his agency in New York City, having been run out of L.A.
Mark Stephens has Cornell Wilde's eyes & could certainly play an appealing character, but private-eye Galt isn't it. So when he's framed for murder, hardly anyone but Kathleen believes his tale of innocence.
There's an excellent character array, from actors turning in uniformly good performances. William Bendix plays the muscle in the ice cream suit. Reed Hadley plays the cop.
Tony Jardine (Kurt Kreuger), dandified attorney, was once a parter of Galt's in San Francisco, but has been his enemy for some while. Professionally he's become an outright blackmailer.
Clifton Webb plays wealthy art dealer Hardy Cathcart, married to way-too-young Mari (Cathy Downs). Jardine has been having an affair with Mari, but only because he's investing his time setting up the Cathcarts as his next blackmail victims.
But Jardine did not hire the ice cream suit to harass detective Brad Galt, who has nevertheless been manipulated into renewed conflict with Jardine. And when Jardine is murdered, Ice Cream Suit, now in black, helps frame Galt for Jardine's death.
Although he has only known Kathleen for three weeks as an employee & two days as romantic interest, she is so goody-two-shoes in his corner it's annoying. They'll have to track down the Ice Cream Suit if they're to clear Galt's name, but when he turns up murdered too, the trail runs cold.
Lucy's character is just as much of a detective as Brad Galt, & their partnership turning out to be an equal one is a nice element. But neither is particularly good at the business, for luck rather than deduction leads them to the man who set Galt up.
As a film noir, Dark Corner lacks a proper femme fatale, though Mari's revenge is close enough. The black & white cinematography of Joe MacDonald is excellent & the film overall a winner in a minor note.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl