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Fall Guy

Posted by martinteller on November 4, 2012

“There was a knife.  My knife.  My crime behind that door.  I put the key and the knife in my pocket, like a mechanic cleaning up after finishing a job.  It was sticky and clammy, but I guess the shock was enough to keep me on my feet for a while yet.  I didn’t know what the next step was, but I did know that if I blacked out again, I was through.  I had to keep going as long as I could.”

Tom Cochrane (Leo Penn) wakes up in the hospital, but in police custody, narcotics coursing through his veins, blood on his hands and clothes and his knife.  He escapes and enlists the help of his fiancée Lois (Teala Loring) and brother-in-law Mac (Robert Armstrong), a cop.  Together they prod Tom’s memory until he recalls making a friend (Elisha Cook, Jr.) in a bar, being taken to a party where there’s an attractive gal (Virginia Dale), being given a drink and passing out.  When he comes to, he’s alone in a room with the gal dead in the closet.  Everything else is a blur, but the three race to discover the truth before the police catch up with Tom.

Cornell Woolrich is known for convoluted narratives.  This one isn’t too hard to follow, but it takes some nutty turns, much of it revealed in clumsy exposition near the end.  The story bears some resemblance to two other Woolrich yarns: Black Angel, made the year before, and Fear in the Night from the same year (later remade as Nightmare).  Fella under some kind of influence, struggling to learn or prove whether or not he actually committed a horrible crime.  This is probably the weakest of all of those, due to some lame performances and not much meat to the story.  Cook and Armstrong are good, and Iris Adrian has a tiny but fun role as the party hostess, but Penn and Loring are pretty flat, their characters have no flair.

Again I was stuck with a very muddy print, but for the most part the movie looked as cheap and slapdash as it undoubtedly was, with just a few intriguing shots.  As a film, it’s watchable and will only cost you 64 minutes, but there’s nothing special about it.  By-the-numbers stuff.  Rating: Fair (61)

IMDb
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