Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Corners Rusting from the Sea

Quicksand (1950)
directed by Irving Pichel
rating: 3 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

You can pencil in September 28th for the dubious distinction of autumn feeling seasonal for the first time here in Pittsburgh, and since there are only a few days left before I start watching horror movies all month, Mickey Rooney playing the straight sap felt right for the night. Quicksand offers a nice succession of escalating crime committed even as the previous theft is exposed. And since Jeanne Cagney, all of 31, is a little too brittle to believably inspire Dan's spree, the screenplay lets him make that innocuous first wrong move on his own. In the end, though, the movie belongs less to its actions - lots of sucker moves by too many characters who should be smarter - and more to the old Santa Monica pier, where Peter Lorre, in a bow tie and a frown, moons over a drafty room of arcade games, watching his old love leave. Little more than a cameo, it's the scene that makes the film essential.