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Two O’Clock Courage

Posted by martinteller on July 25, 2013

A man (Tom Conway) is stumbling around and almost gets hit by a cab.  The driver, Patty (Ann Rutherford), accosts him for being drunk and then realizes he has a head injury.  And that he doesn’t know who he is, where he is or how he got hurt.  As the two try to solve the man’s mystery, it becomes clear that he was somehow involved in a murder, but how?  Also looking for answers — and increasingly focusing their attention on the mystery man — are a detective (Emory Parnell) and a pushy reporter (Richard Lane).  Who is this man, and what does a play entitled “Two O’clock Courage” have to do with it all?

Another bland early noir from one of the genre’s great directors.  Anthony Mann’s best noirs — Raw Deal, Border Incident, T-Men, Side Street — was still to come.  This one suffers from a lame plot device (so many noirs about amnesia, so few good ones) that feels too familiar.  It’s basically a cross between Street of Chance and Deadline at Dawn.  Conway and Rutherford run around town, picking up clues while dodging the inquiries of Parnell and Lane.  The resolution is rather unsatisfying.

The film does have a nice light comic touch, although few of the gags are actually funny.  Conway — who appeared in some of the best Val Lewton productions — comes off like a poor man’s Robert Donat.  Ann Rutherford is quite charming, though.  Very bubbly and adorable, I’ll have to seek out more of her work.  Lane is annoying and involved in the worst bits of comedy.  Jane Greer appears in a small role, doing some very poor drunk acting at the climax.

At a mere 66 minutes, it’s quick enough not to wear out its welcome.  But there’s nothing very special about it.  A mystery that functions yet never excites.  Rating: Fair (66)


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