The Independent (USA)

Movies in the Mountains [in Exile] recommends ‘The Dark Corner’

- By Frank Cullen

What made film noir effective more than run-ofthe-mill crime flicks was the visual ‘look’ that cinematogr­aphers adapted from German Expression­ism, a visual style of filmmaking from the 1920s, and from 1930s Hollywood horror pics.

Film noir was peppered with nonmusical sounds—as were radio plays—to create tension and excite surprise and fright with traffic noise, gunshots, creaking floors or slamming doors, police or fire sirens, news bulletins, along with ambient street sounds drifting into open windows or muffled conversati­ons.

Top-billed in the cast of The Dark Corner was Lucille Ball (1911-1989).

Private detective Mark Stevens is being framed for a murder but there are layers to the deception. As his recently hired secretary, Lucille Ball provides him support and love, and nearly steals the movie from a fine supporting cast.

IMDB rates The Dark Corner a respectabl­e 7.1, while Rotten Tomatoes aggregate of film critics award it the rare 100%; 70% of film-goers agreed.

Lucille Ball didn’t waste her time fluttering in Hollywood’s social scene. She paid attention to experience­d actors, especially comedians Buster Keaton, Bob Hope, Red Skelton and Harpo Marx, who helped Lucy realize her comedy potential, and to stage great Constance Collier, who in her later career taught acting and sharpened many a movie starlet’s dramatic skills. Her parts got better and bigger in the late 1940s, and Ball took a leap into radio in 1948 for three seasons of My Favorite Husband and then into television with her then-husband Desi Arnez played her television husband in I Love Lucy.

Mark Stevens (19161994) was the male lead, in that staple of a private detective, playing a private detective, less cynical than Humphrey Bogart, John Payne or Alan Ladd, who seemed to own that 1940s territory.

Mark Stevens never became enough of a box-office name to carry a movie on his own. Given his maleness, he would have seemed to director Henry Hathaway a logical choice for the private eye role in The Dark Corner. Mark Stevens seemed too nice to convey the hurt of a man escaping a troubled past.

Stevens wisely augmented his career by producing and directing, as well as acting, in television (three dozen credits including the star role of Martin Kane);

owning real estate and a restaurant.

Crowding Lucille and Mark for the spotlight was musical comedy singerdanc­er Clifton Webb, turned comedy and serious actor, usually as an acerbic gentleman, whether benevolent or evil.

Making the most of his secondary role as a thug was William Bendix, an allaround dramatic and comedy actor who had scored in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat and in the title role of Babe Ruth Story. Yet Bendix may be best remembered as the lead on network radio and television in The Life of Riley.

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