Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Chicago Deadline (1949) at the Noir City Film Festival

This year's Noir City Film Festival was a particularly great opportunity for fans of Alan Ladd to enjoy some of his movies.

The festival kicked off with Ladd in THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942) and a few days later featured a brand-new print of CALCUTTA (1947), both of which I enjoyed immensely.

Thursday's double bill included another Ladd film which was brand-new to me, CHICAGO DEADLINE (1949). It was screened in a great-looking 35mm print.

CHICAGO DEADLINE is "newspaper noir," with Ladd starring as Ed Adams, a reporter investigating the life of a young woman named Rosita (Donna Reed). As the movie begins, Rosita is found dead of tuberculosis in a rundown boarding house.

Ed is curious to find out how such a young woman came to a sad, lonely end. He snags Rosita's address book before the cops arrive and starts phoning people to ask about her. The more questions Ed asks, the more that powerful people around town start acting nervous...and bodies start to pile up.

Ladd and Reed had costarred the previous year in BEYOND GLORY (1948), but they don't have any scenes together in this film. Reed's screen time is quite limited, and her character remains enigmatic throughout, with little chance for Reed to establish her as a character. She's the woman everyone talks about, yet the viewer doesn't really know her or understand her motivations.

The larger plot, with many characters and multiple flashbacks, gets rather convoluted at times, but no matter, as Ladd is onscreen a majority of the time and the story keeps barreling forward, climaxing in a well-staged shootout in a garage. Despite the film's deficiencies, I found it quite an enjoyable 86 minutes.

Arthur Kennedy plays Rosita's brother, with June Havoc, Shepperd Strudwick, Irene Hervey, Gavin Muir, and John Beal a few of the people in Rosita's orbit.

The supporting cast includes Margaret Field, Kasey Rogers, Roy Roberts, Arthur Space, Marietta Canty, and Tom Powers.

CHICAGO DEADLINE was directed by Lewis Allen (THE UNINVITED) and filmed in black and white by John F. Seitz.


May 2018 Update: I had the chance to see this film again at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.


Blogger Vienna said...

It's surprising this Alan Ladd film isn't on DVD. I have seen it some years ago and recall a vague resemblance to Laura, as Ladd investigates Donna Reed's death.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Vienna,

That's a good analogy, learning about the character after she's died. There are too many Alan Ladd movies not on DVD, stuck behind that Paramount/Univeral "wall." They need to turn them loose!

Best wishes,

9:52 AM  

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