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Quicksand

USA 1950
produced by
Mort Briskin, Samuel H. Stiefel for Samuel H. Stiefel Productions/United Artists
directed by Irving Pichel
starring Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, Barbara Bates, Peter Lorre, Taylor Holmes, Art Smith, Wally Cassell, Richard Lane, Patsy O'Connor, John Gallaudet, Minerva Urecal, Sidney Marion, Jimmie Dodd, Lester Dorr, Kitty O'Neil, Frank Marlowe, Alvin Hammer, Ray Teal, Tom Monroe, Red Nichols and His Five Pennies
written by Robert Smith, music by Louis Gruenberg

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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All Dan (Mickey Rooney) wanted to do was to "borrow" $20 from the register of the garage he works at, to later spend the money on a dame, hot Vera (Jeanne Cagney). And since he figures he can pay it back the very next day since a friend owes him a twenty, he doesn't even regard it as minor demeanour - he has been promised the money for the next day anyhow, so what's the big deal? Thing is, the friend doesn't pay up the next day, and when he buys a watch on loan to sell it to a pawnbroker, he suddenly finds himself a hundred in debt, and when he robs a drunk (Sidney Marion) of his winnings in bingo ... well, arcade owner Nick (Peter Lorre) witnesses this and manages to collect evidence - to then blackmail Dan into providing him with nothing smaller than a car from the garage. Nick, it has to be mentioned here, is Vera's ex who she loves to tease every now and again, and who has developed a severe dislike in Dan, naturally. Dan steals the car for Nick, but now his boss (Art Smith) figures it might be a good idea instead of calling the police and getting nothing out of it to blackmailing him into coming up with $3,000 to pay for the car. Now if Dan had 3,000, he naturally would have never stolen the 20 in the first place ... but here, Vera rushes to the rescue, suggesting they rob Nick's place. With her knowledge of the lay of his place, this goes very well, and Dan already thinks his problems are over ... until he finds out Vera hasn't done this to aid him, but has split the loot to buy herself a mink coat, and instead of the 3,000 he was hoping for, Dan is left with 1,800. Still, he tries to pay up his boss, but the two get into an argument upon which Dan strangles his boss, and at Vera's place almost runs into the police, which Vera's only too happy to help - but Helen (Barbara Bates), the woman who has long been in unrequited love with Dan, now helps him to skip town ... and after a wild chase also convinces him to give himself up to the police, especially since it turns out that he didn't actually kill his boss, and since it was his first offense ever, he might come away with no more than one year ...

 

Agent/producer Samuel H. Stiefel's second attempt (after The Big Wheel) to get then 30 year old Mickey Rooney away from his a tad too youthful Andy Hardy-image turns out to be a pretty solid B picture of the film noir variety, with Rooney being rather perfectly cast as the hapless guy who never means to do wrong but ultimately does nothing but. Stiefel's other protegée Peter Lorre also gives a strong performance as the jilted lover Nick, but as much had to be expected from him, actually.

In all, this is a pretty good flick, telling an interesting story with many an unusual plottwist, carried by a great ensemble cast and a well-paced directorial effort. Only the rather too reconciliatory ending might put one off a bit, but it hardly destroys the movie. I probably wouldn't go so far as to say it's an undiscovered classic, but it's definitely above-average budget conscious genre entertainment!

 

Stiefel's last movie as a producer by the way, as his expertise lay more in promoting music than making films. But it's definitely not a movie to be ashamed of!

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD