Saturday, August 04, 2018

Tonight's Movie: I Walk Alone (1947) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

I WALK ALONE (1947) is an enjoyable film noir just released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

I WALK ALONE was produced by Hal B. Wallis for Paramount Pictures. It has a great cast: Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, Wendell Corey, and Kristine Miller.

Lancaster plays Frankie Madison, newly released from prison after a 14-year stint for bootlegging during the Prohibition era. Before Frankie was arrested he and his partner Dink (Douglas) had agreed they were 50-50 partners even if one of them were to be arrested.

Frankie's brother Dave (Corey), who works for Dink as an accountant, picks up Frankie at the train station yet seems strangely reticent and reserved. It's soon clear why: Dink, who owns a fancy nightclub, has set up his businesses so that Frankie won't get more than a pittance, and Dave is the one who helped Dink with the paperwork and accounting.

Dink sets up his girlfriend, nightclub singer Kay (Scott), to have a fancy welcome home dinner with Frankie and pump him for information. Kay quickly warms up to Frankie which is just as well, as Dink plans to marry wealthy Alexis (Miller) -- but tries to convince Kay that he truly loves her and they'll continue their romance on the side!

Frankie tries to figure out how to claim his share of the business from under a mountain of paperwork; meanwhile Dink contends with the guilt-ridden Dave threatening to blow the whistle...

This is quite an enjoyable film, sort of a mashup of '30s gangster film and '40s noir; it's mainly set at night, and while at first it seems that Frankie might be led astray by Scott's femme fatale, things don't end as darkly as is often the case with film noir.

Lancaster, Scott, and Corey are solid, with Douglas -- an actor I don't particularly care for -- quite good as the slimy, sleazy Dink. He's amazingly self-centered and nervy, whether stealing from his old friend or setting up his ostensible girlfriend for a romantic evening with another man.

Stealing the movie is the underrated Miller as the predatory Alexis, who injects an electric spark into the film in each of her memorable scenes, whether she's coming on to Frankie or making out with her fiance, Dink; she also trades some delicious snark with Kay. Miller's Alexis disappears from the film far too early, after Dink hangs up from a phone conversation with his fiancee and mutters "Tramp!" Miller -- and Scott -- are polar opposites here from the roles they would play a couple years later in the noir classic TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949).

I WALK ALONE may not be top-of-the-line noir, but it's entertaining and I enjoyed watching it for the first time. Kino Lorber's terrific-looking Blu-ray shows off the shadowy photography by Leo Tover to great effect.

I WALK ALONE was the first credited full-length sound film directed by Byron Haskin. Haskin, who had already worked for years as cinematographer and special effects man, also directed a handful of silent films.

The screenplay by Charles Schnee was based on an adaptation of a Theodore Reeves play by Robert Smith and John Bright. It was his first credited screenplay. Schnee's other credits include RED RIVER (1948), THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948), WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1951), and several other notable films.

The score of this 97-minute film was by Victor Young. Mike Mazurki, Marc Lawrence, George Rigaud, and Mickey Knox costar.

The Kino Lorber release has a commentary track by Troy Howarth. It also has five trailers of films featuring either Lancaster or Douglas which are available from Kino Lorber.

More great news from Kino Lorber: The company just announced that they will soon release Paramount's DESERT FURY (1947), which stars some of the same cast members of I WALK ALONE: Lancaster, Scott, Corey, and Miller.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Margot Shelby said...

I reviewed this a while ago and it's not my favorite either. The cast is what makes this movie good. I'm a Kirk Douglas fan, I also love Burt Lancaster, so it works for me. The battle of the snarling alpha males. I love it. Liz Scott is always a plus. But the film could have been so much better.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

I guess Kristine Miller's star didn't rise as it deserved to do. I know her from her portrayal of female detective, Miss Jones (Jonesey), in Season Two of Republic's TV series "STORIES OF THE CENTURY" where she was really a female'helper' to Jim Davis's railroad detective.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I agree, Margot, the cast makes the movie. Great to spend time with them in the shadows, even if they've all made some better films.

Jerry, I just read about STORIES OF THE CENTURY the other day, sounds rather interesting! I've wondered if the fact Miller can be such a chameleon, even looking different movie to movie, worked against her becoming a bigger star. She was a wonderful actress but perhaps just didn't quite have a star "personality."

Best wishes,

1:09 PM  
Blogger teadoust said...

I don't know why, but the scene where Lancaster demands to see the books but gets the runaround (finally tearing said books up in frustration) from Douglas always makes me laugh. Great news about Desert Fury getting a dvd release. It's a STRANGE film.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, I first remember seeing I WALK ALONE on the old NBC SATURDAY NIGHT NIGHT AT THE MOVIES in 1966 or'67. It is one of those movies that hung in my memory. It was the first Burt and Kirk movie, although I had seen them in the GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL(1957) first on the same NBC SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES in 1965. Gossip columnist Sheilah Graham called Burt and Kirk the "Terrible tempered twins of Hollywood." They probably were, and that is why they were so good acting off of each other, which made for dramatic chemistry. I liked the way Margot Shelby put it, "The battle of the snarling alpha males."

Sometimes, when you first view any movie as a youngster, you may have more of an appreciation for it than somebody that first views the same movie as an adult. Although, it's not always that way. Myself, as an adult, I see some flaws, but I still like I WALK ALONE and appreciate it. Thanks for the good write-up.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Teadoust, I'm looking forward to seeing DESERT FURY for the first time!

Walter, I always love hearing memories of "first viewings" and it's also fun to remember the formats in which movies used to appear on TV. That is quite funny about the "terrible tempered twins," that is great. I tolerate Lancaster far better than Douglas but neither will go down in history as my favorite actor so that's kinda perfect. :) I like Margot's "snarling alpha males," too!

Best wishes,

9:39 AM  

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