Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Incident (1948) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

INCIDENT (1948) is a quick-moving 66-minute Monogram crime film just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

While INCIDENT isn't as engaging as Monogram's STAGE STRUCK (1948), which was released by the Warner Archive on the same date, it's nonetheless entertaining, over and done before anyone has a chance to become restless.

Late one night Joe Downey (Warren Douglas) is walking home after an evening spent with friends (Harry Lauter and Joyce Compton). He's waylaid by a man with a gun who calls Joe "Slats" and then beats him up.

It turns out the beating was a case of mistaken identity, as Joe bears a resemblance to a gangster type nicknamed Slats (Robert Osterloh). While revisiting the area where he was beaten in an attempt to figure out what happened, Joe meets a nice girl named Marion (Jane Frazee) at a pharmacy soda fountain counter.

Marion has more than a passing interest in what happened to Joe, and it might not be simply because she likes him. As is eventually revealed, she's an insurance investigator trying to solve the disappearance of fur coats intended for delivery to a department store. Slats just might be involved.

One of the interesting things about this "B" film is that it provides a very strong woman's role. The second half of the film shifts focus from Joe to Marion, as she puts the moves on Slats while trying to find evidence. Marion is a tough cookie who knocks Slats' previous girlfriend (Lynn Millan) cold, and she also packs heat. In a role reversal from the usual, it's Joe who's constantly in distress, trailing Marion and phoning the cops for help, while Marion coolly and aggressively builds her case.

Jane Frazee, seen here in an undated publicity photo, was a veteran of many "B" musicals, including Roy Rogers films like SPRINGTIME IN THE SIERRAS (1947) and UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS (1948). In the '50s she succeeded Jane Harker and Phyllis Coates as Alice McDoakes in the long-running series of Joe McDoakes shorts. She passed on in Newport Beach, California, in 1985, at the age of 67.

One of the things I like about a movie like this is the tiny details revealed about daily life in the '40s -- for instance, I loved the behind-the-counter shot of the druggist filling an order for root beer, first putting in the syrup and then spraying in the carbonated liquid in a two-step process. I also enjoyed the advertising signs in the drugstore, and the opening shots of movie theaters including a big sign for RED RIVER (1948). There was also a fast glimpse of the L.A. May Co. building on Wilshire!

Watch for a young Jimmie Dodd as a department store clerk. The movie also stars Anthony Caruso, Eddie Dunn, Meyer Grace, Harry Cheshire, and Robert Emmett Keane.

The movie was directed by William Beaudine. It was filmed by Marcel Le Picard, who I admit I'd never heard of before! Looks like he had a long career in the "B's" before passing on in 1952.

The screenplay was cowritten by Fred Niblo Jr., who wrote some other films I've enjoyed such as EAST OF THE RIVER (1940) and BODYGUARD (1948). EAST OF THE RIVER and BODYGUARD are both also available from the Warner Archive.

The INCIDENT DVD is a good-looking print. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


OpenID vienna said...

Thanks for your review. Must get this one!

12:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Let me know what you think. Not a great film but a fun one -- the kind we each enjoy checking out.

Best wishes,

3:04 PM  

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