Saturday, December 28, 2019

Where Danger Lives (1950)

A San Francisco kid doctor.

A good one. Dr. Jeff Cameron (Robert Mitchum).  A nice guy but a schmo. He's about to leave the children's ward and the hospital for the weekend when an emergency arrives. A suicide attempt. A woman. It's Faith Domergue. A smokey Creole brunette named Margo. So Jeff saves Margo.

The next morning Margo checked herself out of the hospital before Jeff shows up for his shift. She did send him a telegram. The telegram says that she owes him an explanation. She asks him to meet her at 8:00 PM. at 112 Sea Cliff.

Jeff goes to the address he meets Margo she tells him her last name is Lannington. Jeff tells her that he must report the suicide to the police. Margo tells him that her father who is on a fishing trip up in Canada would be devastated if he finds out she tried to kill herself. Margo tells Jeff that she'll be alright. Jeff tells her that he should get out and enjoy life.  Margo likes what she sees. Jeff likes what she offers. Jeff goes to the phone. Margo at first thinks he's calling the police. When Jeff asks for Nurse Julie, Margo tries to stop him. Jeff grabs her arm. He's calling Julie his fiance to tell her he's got another emergency. A hot pants emergency. Jeff bites. Jeff is hooked. Margo makes her move. The screen goes dark. They do the tube snake boogie.

Opening Ambulance Sequence

Dr. Jeff Cameron (Robert Mitchum)

Margo (Faith Domergue)

On Thursday they meet at a Tiki Club called Pogo Pete's. Margo tells Jeff that she has to split early because she is going away on a trip to Nassau with her father. Jeff get plastered. He gets the bright idea to go see her old man.

Jeff Cameron: [drinking a cocktail in a tropical-themed restaurant] These things are like water.
Waiter:They creep up on you.
Jeff Cameron: Bring me a couple more.
Waiter: But, sir, you have four and we are only allowed two to a customer.
Jeff Cameron: Why?
Waiter: That drink makes a guy talk back to his mother-in-law.
Jeff Cameron:What about his father-in-law?
Waiter: I suppose so.
Jeff Cameron: You've given me an idea.

Jeff takes a taxi cab to Margo's.
Mr. Lannington (Claude Rains) 

He rings the bell. Margo answers. She tells him to leave. He wont. Mr. Lannington (Claude Rains) walks into the room. Mitchum tells him he wants to marry his daughter. Mr. Lannington is amused.

Mr. Lannington: So you're quite sure of your feelings? I mean, you know, people sometimes get... carried away. Come to their senses again with a jolt.
Jeff Cameron: Mr. Lannington, I want to marry your daughter.
Mr. Lannington: I wish you'd stop calling her my daughter. She happens to be my wife.

It's as if Jeff fell through a trapdoor into Noirsville. Jeff is both pissed off at Margo and shocked at his own stupidity. He splits. Just as he gets back out side the house he hears Margo scream. He goes running back in to find her on the floor holding her ear. Mr. Lannington has ripped out one of her earrings.

Jeff and Lannington get into a scuffle Lannington grabs a fireplace poker and hits him upside the back of his head. Jeff floors him with a punch. Lannington is out.

Jeff's doctor training kicks in. He tells Margo to get a pillow under his head. Jeff stumbles to the bathroom to get some water to bring Lannington around.  Jeff's got a concussion only he doesn't know for sure yet. He goes stumbling back to the parlor where Lannington, breathing when he left, is now dead.

Margo is dangerous and a murderess. We figure she probably suffocated her husband with the pillow the Jeff told her to get. Jeff is confused Margo is manipulative.

Margo tells Jeff that they should split with the airline tickets that she and her husband have reserved for the trip. Nobody would notice Lannington's body till the servant comes back on Monday. That gives them three days. Jeff not thinking straight agrees. At the airport Margo sees police at a counter, and hears Mr Lannington paged over the public address and panics.

So for mistaken reasons (the page was a well wisher for a bon voyage, the cops were randomly there), they decide to drive their way South across the border. During the night they come upon a roadblock and they take a side road. The roadblock was for agriculture inspections, not for Margo and Jeff.. In the morning Jeff checks his eyes in the cars side mirror. He now knows for sure that he has a concussion. He tells Margo. Now after the roadblock they think they have to get rid of Margo's Caddy.

Jeff pulls into Honest Hal's Used Cars. Ends up with a straight across trade Margo's 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible for a 1934 International Harvester C-1 beater. 

Mojave Desert
They continue heading South. They finally hear over the radio that the police have discovered Lannington's body. It was just four hours ago. They ran from the airport and traded off Margo's car for nothing.

And so the road trip to Mexico continues with Jeff trying to stay cognizant with a concussion, and deal with a Femme Fatale that has a screw loose.


Heading across the Mojave Desert with $13

Where Danger Lives was directed by John Farrow who gave us His Kind of Woman, The Big Clock and the little seen Alias Nick Beal and Night Has a Thousand Eyes. The film was written by Charles Bennett abd based on a story by Leo Rosten. Cinematography was by the great Nicholas Musuraca (The Fallen Sparrow, Cat People, The Seventh Victim, Blood on the Moon, Out of the Past, The Locket, Deadline at Dawn, The Spiral Staircase and many others), Music was by Roy Webb.

At 82 minutes the film is quick paced. There is even a comedic stopover in a fly speck town town during a whiskers week celebration. Worth a look see. 7/10