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Markshark Written by Markshark
Apr. 22, 2008 | 5:39 PM

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Nora Prentiss

I really didn’t know what to expect from this one, except that it starred Ann Sheridan, which was good enough for me. (That’s because the seldom seen WOMAN ON THE RUN is one of my favorite Noirs: wonderfully witty script, evocative San Francisco locations, and a genuinely moving, unique love story that is uncommon on its own and practically extinct in Noir.) I wanted to see what else she had done. Caution: spoilers ahead.

Story involves a bored, married physician, Dr. Talbot (Kent Smith) who falls for a luscious nightclub chanteuse (Sheridan). For most of the first half, the film works as a straightahead chronicle of an adulterous affair. Then it turns bigtime NOIR. One of the doc’s chronically ill patients, visiting after hours, dies before him. Where other healers might see failure, this one sees opportunity. Noticing a similarity in height, age, and weight, he puts the man’s body in his (the doc’s) car, sets it on fire, and pushes it over a cliff. Problem solved: everyone thinks it’s the doc’s body, negating the need for a messy divorce. (An aside: it’s hard to remember another Noir in which a crime is committed not out of greed, lust or fear, but out of love and concern for family. The doc’s fevered thinking is that his family would rather a dead husband and father than a divorced one. No matter. His “good” intentions are no match for sadistic Fate.)

Dr. T and Nora decamp to NYC, where they keep a low-pro as long as they are able. He is, after all, supposed to be dead. Eventually she goes back to work singing and the unemployed (and unemployable) doc starts to go a little nuts. Jealousy, drinking, and boredom make him suspicious, angry, and unpredictable. He soon gets into a car crash which disfigures his face, rendering him unidentifiable. The cops come to arrest him: not for the murder of his patient, but for the murder of HIMSELF! My friend, Gretchen, told me she wanted to start applauding at the sheer cleverness of this plot twist, and I had to agree.

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