This hard-boiled detective yarn begins with seething anger in Stevens, a gumshoe framed for a crime he didn't commit. He suspects his one-time partner Kreuger as the culprit but can't prove it. Moreover, police harass him as he attempts to reestablish himself in a profession that is at
best unsavory and dangerous. Added to his woes is a man in a white suit, Bendix, who dogs the private eye's trail. He and Stevens battle but Stevens can't determine why the man is dogging him. Only his faithful secretary Ball is supportive, as well as deeply in love with him. At one point Stevens
sums up his puzzling predicament, telling Ball: "I'm backed up in a dark corner and I don't know who's hitting me." The man hitting Stevens from afar is the calculating, sinister Webb, a wealthy art dealer with a Machiavellian plan. Insanely jealous of his beautiful wife, Downs, Webb decides to
get rid of her lover, Kreuger. He assigns Bendix to make life miserable for Stevens and to insinuate that Kreuger is paying him to foul up Stevens' life and career. By this provocation Webb hopes that Stevens will kill his former partner. The plan fizzles when Stevens doesn't rise to the bait.
Next, Webb orders Bendix to kill Kreuger and place his body beneath Stevens' bed. But Stevens, who had been knocked out by Bendix before the body was planted, wakes up before police arrive, finds the body, hides it, and then launches into an impossible investigation. Just before he tracks down
Bendix and is to receive information about the killing--Bendix is at odds with Webb for not paying him off--Webb meets with his hired killer on the top floor of a skyscraper and pushes him out of the window with his walking stick. Stevens, however, manages to identify Webb through a series of
hard-established little clues and confronts him in his gallery. The arrogant Webb admits to the killings and then pulls a gun, planning to do away with Stevens as a common criminal who broke into his gallery. But Downs, who overhears Webb's confession of killing her lover, shoots and kills her
husband, saving Stevens and allowing him to return to his office and Ball's waiting arms.
THE DARK CORNER is captivating film noir surely directed by Hathaway and well acted by all the players. MacDonald's sharp camera work and contrasting lighting, along with the moody score from Mockridge, add to the overall suspense of this fine production. Stevens was being groomed by Fox for
leading man status and for a few years he maintained that image, giving terse, sullen performances popular in the late 1940s. Ball is a beautiful prop here, but Webb is amazing as the cool mastermind, and jut-jawed Bendix again gives a stellar supporting performance.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This hard-boiled detective yarn begins with seething anger in Stevens, a gumshoe framed for a crime he didn't commit. He suspects his one-time partner Kreuger as the culprit but can't prove it. Moreover, police harass him as he attempts to reestablish hims… (more)