DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

MAN IN THE DARK (THE MAN WHO LIVED TWICE) (director: Lew Landers; screenwriter: George Bricker/Jack Leonard/William Sackheim/from the 1936 film written by Tom Van Dycke and Henry Altimus; cinematographer: Floyd Crosby; editor: Viola Lawrence; music:  Ross DiMaggio; cast: Edmond O'Brien (Steve Rawley/James Blake), Audrey Totter (Peg Benedict), Ted de Corsia (Lefty), Horace McMahon (Arnie), Nick Dennis (Cookie), Dan Riss (Jawald), Dayton Lummis (Dr. Marston), Paul Bryar (Freddie -- Bartender), Mickey Simpson (Flannagan -- clinic orderly), Shepard Menken (intern), John Harmon (Herman), Ruth Warren (Mayme); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Wallace MacDonald; Columbia Pictures; 1953)

"Silly, low-budget, B-film crime drama, shot in 3-D."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Silly, low-budget, B-film crime drama, shot in 3-D. Under the unimaginative direction of Poverty Row filmmaker Lew Landers ("Torpedo Alley"/"Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land"/"Inner Sanctum") the pic had no chance of working. It's a remake of the Ralph Bellamy 1936 vehicle The Man Who Lived Twice, which was written by Tom Van Dycke and Henry Altimus. Writers George Bricker, Jack Leonard and William Sackheim fail to get the film noir tone of the story and waste the talents of an iconic film noir cast. The pic is watchable because Edmond O'Brien gives his bewildered character some juice and the finale roller coaster ride provides some chills.

Career criminal Steve Rawley (Edmond O'Brien) is serving a ten-year sentence for robbing on Christmas Eve a factory payroll of $130,000. Though the money has not been recovered, Steve volunteers for experimental brain surgery by Dr. Marston (Dayton Lummis) and as a result his criminal instincts are surgically removed and he receives a parole. Unfortunately he loses his memory. Steve, now called James Blake, is pursued for the payroll money by the persistent insurance investigator Jawald (Dan Riss) and Rawley's robbery gang--Lefty (Ted de Corsia), Cookie (Nick Dennis), Arnie (Horace McMahon). The gang kidnap Rawley while he's recovering in the clinic, and hold him in their apartment while they grill and beat him. Also there is his heart-of-gold gun moll girlfriend Peg (Audrey Totter), who tries to rekindle her love connection with him.

Things become less fuzzy when Steve dreams of stashing the loot in an amusement park by the Pacific Ocean Park Pier, in Long Beach, California, and discovers while on the run from the cops he put the dough in a candy box and checked it into a spot that holds baggage. With the dream as a clue, Steve and Peg escape from the apartment, but are followed by his former cohorts. Peg leaves Steve when his old criminal instincts return and he wants to flee the country with the stolen money and not start life anew with her as a straight couple. But the operation works, as in the last minute Steve returns to Peg and hands the money over to the creepy insurance investigator (who knew Steve was being beaten by his former cohorts but offered no help).

If we took this stupid pic seriously, we would have such a surgical program ongoing in all our prisons.

REVIEWED ON 4/6/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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