Directed by Lew Landers (Crime, Inc. (1945), Danger Street (1947), Inner Sanctum (1948)) the film is a remake of the 1936 Ralph Bellamy crime film The Man Who Lived Twice (1936). The adaptation was by William Sackhein the screenplay was re written by George Bricker and Jack Leonard from the story by Tom Van Dycke and Henry Altimus. The cinematography was by Floyd Crosby (High Noon (1952), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Cry Baby Killer (1958), I Mobster (1959), Night Tide (1961)). The music was by Ross DiMaggio, musical director, and the Music Department.
No way was I going to be able watch this in 3D on my home screen. Incidentally, it worked just fine in 2D. However, even without it's 3D technique, Man In The Dark with the majority of it's cast so well steeped in Classic Film Noir can definitely be considered your basic a "meat and potato" Noir. Its has it all, the cinematic memory, your classic amnesia story, this time with a medically induced twist, the forgotten cache of stolen loot, the skirt with change of heart, the iconic denouement with a roller-coaster, and all done 70 minutes.
Steve Rawley (O'Brien) is in stir. Doing a dime. Christmas Eve Armed Robbery. Armored car payroll. He was carrying the loot. The swag, never recovered. He stashed it right before he got caught. His gang Lefty (de Corsia), Arnie (McMahon), and Cookie (Dennis) want it. Steve's gal pal Peg (Totter) wants him out.
|Left to right, Lefty (de Corsia), Steve, Cookie (Dennis), and Arnie (McMahon)|
|Jarwald (Dan Riss)|
|the operation 3D|
Steve's blissful existence of gardening and oil painting is suddenly shattered when Lefty, Arnie, and Cookie kidnap Steve out of the institution.
They hole up at an apartment near Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica. They want their money. When the gang recounts to Steve the details of their daring daylight robbery we see it in flashback. Their hopes are dashed when Steve still tells them that he doesn't know anything, he's a man in the dark. Peg gets Steve alone, she tells him to give up his act and they can split with all the cash. she gets friendly he's unresponsive. Steve doesn't recognize her. Lefty begins to get tough and Steve is roughed up. He still cant tell what he doesn't know.
|roughing Steve up|
Peg begins to believe Steve. They both flee the apartment. Steve begins to have dreams. Fragments of his forgotten past begin to return. He remembers a post office, and the amusement pier. When they search his old apartment they find a piece of paper taped to the bottom of a drawer. On it are four numbers. Is it a combination, a deposit box, an apartment? It's Noirsville.
|3D cigar to the eye threat|
|3D gun effect|
|the robbery flashback sequence|
|Pacific Ocean Park's Fun House - Laughing Sal|
|3D flower pot off the fire escape, coming at ya|
The film is a neat little time waster, all the principles have been in better Noirs but this one delivers what it promised. Worth a look, and a even a purchase for the whip dream sequence and Pacific Ocean Park, High Boy (Sea Serpent) roller coaster denouement, screen caps are from a TCM presentation. 6/10