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The Night Runner

Posted by martinteller on March 31, 2012

18 months after committing a violent attack of some sort, Roy Turner is prematurely released from a mental hospital for budgetary reasons.  Can he hold it together (and hide his past) enough in the outside world to get by?  This is the world of noir, so… not bloody likely.  It’s a cheapie film but packs some melancholy atmosphere.  There’s an aura of impending doom hanging over the proceedings, as the viewer is certain Turner will eventually crack, despite the goodwill he’s built up with the audience.  Ray Danton — quite memorable as the killer beatnik in The Beat Generation — is very sympathetic and likeable.  For a while, that is.  The main problem with this film is that it doesn’t know what to do with Turner.  His illness manifests itself in radically different ways, and only seems to pop up when it’s convenient for the narrative.  Inconsistency might be an unfair criticism when it comes to a schizophrenic character, but still, those moments feel shoehorned in rather than arrived at organically.

But it’s not a bad movie.  As I said, Danton is quite good, and the no-name supporting cast isn’t that shabby either.  Colleen Miller plays the love interest, very natural and pretty cute, too.  It appears her career was rather short and unremarkable, though.  It’s hard for me to judge the cinematography as the copy I saw was very washed-out… I didn’t notice any particularly striking shots, but given the obvious low-budget it didn’t look that bad.  The music is occasionally a little much, although during a key moment it’s intentionally over-the-top and very effectively so.  Overall I’d say it’s a skippable noir but it has a few intriguing elements.  Rating: Fair


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