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Mystery Street (1950)
Topic Started: Mar 12 2017, 08:46 AM (285 Views)
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Mystery Street (1950) Dir. John Sturges
A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Production
93 min. / B&W / 1.37:1
On DVD from Warner Bros.

Skeletal remains found at the beach need to be identified and a murderer corralled, and a Boston cop and Harvard Medical School forensics scientist are just the guys what can do it, too.

Terrific, well-paced, methodical crime drama that is miles better than most police procedurals. Ricardo Montalban is the cop, Bruce Bennett is the Harvard man, and Elsa Lanchester steals the picture as the murder victim's landlady, who knows a little bit more than it's healthy for her to know. Jan Sterling is our unfortunate not-long-for-the-world gal, the luckless Marshall Thompson is the innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time (and how) and Sally Forrest is his steadfast wife, and now we've gotten the cast out of the way. Along with Miss Lanchester - who chews up the scenery in a manner that must've made her husband, Charles Laughton, proud - the best thing about the film is the cinematography of John Alton (An American in Paris), a textbook example of how to light and shoot a film noir. Director Sturges was relatively early in his career but he does a great job (he and Alton would work together again for Bad Day at Black Rock). And shooting the film in Boston adds both to its interest and its realism. Really enjoyed this one.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Ricardo: "Is your husband home?"
Elsa, rolling eyes: "Er, not exactly."

The scene where the faces of missing women are superimposed over the skull found on the beach is more horrifying than anything I've seen in any horror films up to that time.

Mystery Street (stupid title) is paired with Act of Violence on a disc in Warner Bros.' fourth set of Films Noir, and includes commentary and a brief featurette on the making of the film.
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