Saturday, August 15, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Abandoned (1949) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

I've had a wonderful time revisiting a favorite film, ABANDONED (1949), thanks to the recently released Dark Side of Cinema III Blu-ray collection from Kino Lorber.

Three Dark Side of Cinema film noir sets were released over the course of the summer by Kino Lorber. Also in this Vol. III collection are the previously reviewed THE SLEEPING CITY (1950), along with THE LADY GAMBLES (1949), which will be reviewed here at a future date.  I'll also be reviewing additional films from the other two volumes. All three sets are well worth classic film fans' attention.

I first saw ABANDONED at the 2015 Noir City Hollywood Festival, and I liked it so much I was happy to rewatch it just a month later at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.

The movie makes me smile from the start of the opening credits, shown over a shot of Los Angeles City Hall. In short order we meet the lead characters: Paula (Gale Storm), a small-town girl just arrived in the big city to search for her sister Mary, an unwed mother; Mark (Dennis O'Keefe), an investigative reporter Paula chances to meet at the Missing Persons Bureau; District Attorney McRae (Jeff Chandler), who collaborates with Mark to investigate a potential baby adoption racket; and Kerric (Raymond Burr), a shady P.I. tailing Paula at her father's request.

I find this movie a terrific 79 minutes. Everything about it works for me, from the cast to the L.A. locations to the crackling good script. ABANDONED may not be a film a lot of people have heard of, but I've found it enjoyable enough to watch at least four times in the last five years, so there you go.

O'Keefe, Storm, and Chandler are all completely likeable and natural in their interactions with one another; I like Storm's quiet self-possession despite being in a difficult situation...while simultaneously getting to know a cute and obviously interested guy (O'Keefe).

Burr is as creepy as always, and he's backed by Mike Mazurki as a goon and Marjorie Rambeau as the head of the adoption racket. Rambeau oozes elegant sweetness with potential "clients" while being hard-edged and outright evil when dealing with her co-racketeers. In one of my favorite scenes, she's just had someone beaten to death and then, in very annoyed fashion, has to deal with unwed mother Dottie (Meg Randall) going into labor. It's deliciously played.

The Irwin Gielgud screenplay has "additional dialogue" by the great William Bowers, and it was easy to pick out Bowers' influence in some of the sharp and funny lines. As I recounted back in 2015, I happened to watch the movie seated next to Bowers' widow Marjorie, who told me her husband "didn't know he was writing 'film noir'" -- she said they called them "crime films" -- and that he would be gratified to know his movies are still enjoyed today.

ABANDONED was directed by Joseph M. Newman (711 OCEAN DRIVE). It was beautifully photographed in black and white by William H. Daniels. The supporting cast includes Jeanette Nolan, Frank Cady, Billy Gray, Will Kuluva, and David Clarke.

Kino Lorber's new Blu-ray looks terrific, and I'm certain to be pulling this disc out to enjoy again in the future. The Blu-ray includes the trailer and a commentary track by Samm Deighan which I hope to enjoy in the next few days.

This lovely release of ABANDONED is a "must" for anyone who loves L.A. film noir...or should I say, in Mrs. Bowers' words, "crime films."

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


Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Somehow this one has always escaped me but I'll track it down right away. Dennis O'Keefe and Jeff Chandler, what more can a girl want?

William Bowers's comments about the (non)existence of Film Noir were echoed by many of his contemporaries.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, Margot! Can't beat the cast.

Best wishes,

11:39 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Must catch this one. Good cast. Thanks Laura

12:35 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I'm not sure if I have seen Abandoned at all as an adult. I remember seeing it often on late night television in my teen years and the memories of the experience are all fond. Your review made me very happy and put this at the top of the "oh, yes" list.

6:32 AM  
Blogger john k said...

I was thrilled to be able to get this Kino Noir set at a very reasonable price. I already love THE SLEEPING CITY and ABANDONED and have never seen THE LADY GAMBLES. Actually the latter title is more melodrama than Noir but I enjoyed it anyway but it was a bit of a shock to see Barbara Stanwyck hit the skids. THE LADY GAMBLES also has another great Stephen McNally performance but as I mentioned it's my least favorite of the three films. It goes without saying THE SLEEPING CITY is my own personal favorite and it's wonderful to finally have it in sparkling high def. I have not yet got around to listening to the commentaries on ABANDONED or THE LADY GAMBLES but I did listen to Imogen Sara Smith's excellent commentary on THE SLEEPING CITY. Our pal Walter turned me on to Imogen's "Fine Wordsmithing" and I'm glad that that she mentioned the critic David Kehr as someone who has always championed the work of George Sherman. Our friend Blake Lucas has always referenced this in regard to Sherman being generally overlooked by most cineastes. THE SLEEPING CITY shows how great Sherman could be with the right material. ABANDONED is my second choice in this set and with such strong competition that's no bad thing.For now,generally Kino seem to be giving us Blu Ray editions of films Universal have previously released on DVD,I hope this chasnges and eventually Kino can release films that have not even had a DVD release;some of my "most wanted" titles are as follows: LARCENY,THE STORY OF MOLLY X,OUTSIDE THE WALL,UNDER THE GUN and JOHNNY STOOLPIDGEON.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Vienna and Caftan Woman, I really hope you can see this film soon! I love your memories of past viewings, Caftan Woman.

John, love hearing your thoughts on this set. I'll be checking out THE LADY GAMBLES soon -- it's also new to me. The gambling theme isn't very appealing but Stephen McNally is (grin) and of course Stanwyck is always interesting. I have found Imogen Sara Smith to do some of the best commentary tracks these days and appreciate the feedback on her SLEEPING CITY track, I hope to listen to that soon. Also, I can't imagine how many movies I've enjoyed directed by George Sherman, but it's a lot! :)

I share your wish for some never-on-DVD movies to be released; don't know if it will happen, but here's hoping!

Best wishes,

1:34 PM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

You and me both admire Dennis O'Keefe I know, Laura, particularly in his post-war more serious films. "ABANDONED" is one of his best, and what a great cast!
Sadly, these sets are a no-no for me as I can't play Region 1 BluRays. Pain, but I'll survive.

Interested to hear the shrewd comment from Marjorie Bowers. Of course when her husband was working on this film the term 'film noir' hadn't been coined. And truthfully a lot of films are now lumped together as 'noir' when actually they are just 'crime films'. But folk do like to pigeon-hole.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, ABANDONED is such fun! And you're right, post-war O'Keefe is the best O'Keefe. :)

It's a shame you can't play the Region 1 Blu-rays. I have the same problem in reverse. I have an all-region DVD player but not an all-region Blu-ray player.

I'm glad you enjoyed that anecdote! It was a special evening, especially as I so admire Bowers' work.

Best wishes,

11:58 PM  

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