ABANDONED (1949), COVER UP (1949), WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950), and LAS VEGAS SHAKEDOWN (1955).
Next up to watch was O'Keefe's Columbia Pictures film noir MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY (1947) -- not to be confused with his 1941 film of the same name. More on that below!
The 1947 MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY has a grand cast including Marguerite Chapman, Adolphe Menjou, Michael O'Shea, Jeff Donnell, and George Coulouris.
O'Keefe plays attorney Steve Bennett, who is hired as an assistant district attorney by Head D.A. Craig Warren (Menjou) after refusing to defend a crook. Steve does a fine job in the D.A.'s office, but he's got one problem, his love for the conniving Marcia Manning (Chapman). Chapman has never been more stunning than she is in this film so it's easy to understand why he's hung up on her!
Warren sends Steve out of town on assignment for a prolonged time, hoping he'll forget about Marcia -- who marries wealthy crook James Randolph (Coulouris) while Steve's away. Steve is so upset with Warren's interference that he quits the D.A.'s office and considers representing Marcia's husband.
Steve is invited to discuss his new job at a dinner party at the Randolph apartment, a gathering which comes to an unexpected end when another attorney, Ed Jamison (Ralph Morgan), takes a swan dive off the balcony. Supposedly Marcia went out on the balcony and found it empty, but Steve finds a pin from Marcia's dress with Ed's body, which hints something far more sinister took place...
I found MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY engrossing, enjoyable noir fun, with Chapman's Marcia a deliciously amoral and self-centered femme fatale. O'Keefe's Steve is a little more dense than his typical character, but I chalked it up to his being blinded by love!
O'Shea and Donnell are wonderful in support. O'Shea did a similarly strong job as a wisecracking reporter in the previous year's SMART WOMAN (1948), and he's a lot of fun here bantering with the irascible Menjou. Donnell, seen earlier this week in POST OFFICE INVESTIGATOR (1949), doesn't have enough screen time, but she always adds a little extra something to the proceedings when she's on camera.
Funny thing, I was just reminded today that Donnell was the Quartermaines' housekeeper Stella on GENERAL HOSPITAL "back in the day" when I watched (the '80s). How did I forget that? She and Anna Lee (Lila Quartermaine) sure brought some "vintage film class" to that soap.
One of Randolph's henchmen looked incredibly familiar, and I deduced that his name is John Kellogg (left). You may not know the name, but anyone who watches film noir knows the face!
The cast also includes Steven Geray. The film was directed by Robert B. Sinclair, with photography by Bert Glennon and the uncredited Henry Freulich.
This is one of those cases where I don't know what the person who reviewed the film for Maltin's Classic Film Guide was watching. 1-1/2 stars, really?! Sure, there were some bits of hokey dialogue towards the end, but I found this movie entertaining for all of its 81 minutes. Yes, you can see the ending coming a couple minutes in advance, but perhaps that's just because it's so fitting! This was a 2-1/2 to 3 star film, as far as I'm concerned.
It's an interesting bit of trivia that half a dozen years previously Dennis O'Keefe had starred in another film titled MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY (1941). Like the 1947 film, the 1941 version was loosely inspired by a radio show of the same name. However, O'Keefe played a completely different character in the earlier film, and the movies apparently have nothing to do with one another. The 1941 version can be found on DVD in VCI's Forgotten Noir and Crime Vol. 4 set.
The 1941 film also had a Region 2 release in the UK -- but the cover, seen here, is a publicity still from the 1947 film! That's Marguerite Chapman, not Florence Rice.
This 1947 version of MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY is available on DVD from VCI in the Forgotten Noir Vol. 3 collection or as a single-title release. It's a beautiful print, save for a couple seconds when the screen goes dark shortly after Ralph Morgan's character goes off the balcony.