Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tonight's Movie: A Kiss in the Dark (1949)

The romantic comedy A KISS IN THE DARK stars two fine leads, David Niven and Jane Wyman, and was made by an excellent director, Delmer Daves. Despite this trio's talents, I found A KISS IN THE DARK to be an overly silly, somewhat tedious film which seems to drag on longer than its 87 minutes.

David Niven plays Eric Phillips, a sheltered, nervous concert pianist whose business manager (Joseph Buloff) buys him an apartment house, the Cleopatra Arms. When Eric visits the apartment house, he meets advertising model Polly (Jane Wyman) and a building full of odd tenants, including Victor Moore, Wayne Morris, and Broderick Crawford. Thanks to Polly and the Cleopatra Arms, Eric gradually learns that there is life away from the piano keyboard.

Niven is sweet and appealing as the sheltered pianist, and Wyman is charming and looks absolutely lovely, but their surroundings in this film just aren't much fun. I have never enjoyed Victor Moore, and Crawford and Morris both play loud-mouthed, boorish bullies. The plotline had potential, glimpsed in a scene here and there, but the overall execution fell flat.

The supporting cast also includes Maria Ouspenskaya, Curt Bois, Percival Vivian, and Jimmie Dodd (THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB). The movie was shot in black and white by Robert Burks, who went on to shoot some of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, including REAR WINDOW (1954) and NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959).

A KISS IN THE DARK has not had a DVD or video release, but it can be seen on cable on Turner Classic Movies. (Update: This film is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.)

A trailer is available here.


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