A Movie A Day: WHERE DANGER LIVES (1947)
I wish you'd stop calling her my daughter. She happens to be my wife.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Robert Mitchum joins us once again from yesterday’s THE BIG STEAL to today’s WHERE DANGER LIVES.
And what a fucked up weird little movie.
Okay, so Robert Mitchum is a doctor… see:
He’s a doctor who treats a beautiful brunette (Faith Domergue) who attempted suicide. He saves her and she falls for him. They start seeing each other, but something’s off. You can’t really quite figure it out other than it’s a weird movie.
Domergue’s character, Margo, is troubled. She tells Mitchum’s Dr. Jeff Cameron that her father is a little on the abusive side and very controlling. Cameron’s about to leave the hospital and start his own practice and Margo ends up talking him into putting that off and running away with her. Afterall, they can settle down in a small town and he can start up his family practice, right?
They hatch this plan over a bunch of drinks and Margo goes off home to pack. Mitchum is just pissed enough (in both the American and English sense of phrase) to follow her home and confront her father.
The movie played a little melodramatic up to this point. Not uninteresting by any means, but hardly memorable, but when this scene hit the movie turned a corner, thanks in no small part to the wonderfully charismatic Claude Rains who plays Margo’s father…
Or so we thought.
The subhead quote comes from him. Margo’s not his daughter, but his wife. Rains plays this sequence amused. He’s not jealous, but more on the amused side. He pretty much tells Mitchum he can have his wife, but he needs to know what he’s getting in to. She’s not a nice lady.
From here I thought the movie was going to turn into a mind-game a la an earlier AMAD, SLEUTH, but unfortunately the movie doesn’t move into that territory. Also unfortunate is Claude Rains’ exit from the picture. He’s little more than a cameo, which sucks because he’s so awesome in the 4 or so minutes he’s in the picture.
Instead of seeing Rains and Domergue play a sort of tug-o-war for Mitchum’s loyalty (or soul if you will) Rains ends up dead, seemingly by the hand of Mitchum, and the two end up on the run.
They play up the on-the-run paranoia very well… every cop they see is surely looking for them and they lose every chance of escape because of this paranoia. To add even more suspense is that Mitchum was knocked silly by a firepoker and he self-diagnoses a concussion, but they can’t stop to get him cared for.
I’m not sure how medically sound it is, but this pretty much gives Mitchum a ticking clock. He’s going to die if he isn’t cared for, so they run for Mexico in the hopes of making the border in enough time to get care on the other side.
But on the road Margo appears to grow more and more paranoid, more and more distant and Mitchum soon suspects Rains’ warning was true.
Like I said, weird, weird movie.
Final Thoughts: I think the more interesting story wasn’t told, one that would have featured Claude Rains a little more, and I can’t say this is the greatest movie I’ve seen, but it’s worth watching for the sheer “What the fuck?” factor surrounding the ambiguous and disturbing character of Margo. Of the three AMAD Mitchums so far, this is my second favorite behind OUT OF THE PAST and before THE BIG STEAL.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Saturday, July 26th: CROSSFIRE (1947)
Sunday, July 27th: RICCO, THE MEAN MACHINE (1973)
Monday, July 28th: IN HARM’S WAY (1965)
Tuesday, July 29th: FIRECREEK (1968)
Wednesday, July 30th: THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB (1970)
Thursday, July 31st: THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956)
Friday, August 1st: THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (1957)
Tomorrow we hit our final Robert Mitchum flick of this run, 1947’s CROSSFIRE directed by MURDER, MY SWEET’s Edward Dmytryk and co-starring Robert Young and Robert Ryan. See you folks then!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 25, 2008, 12:57 p.m. CST
Hey Quint this was pretty cool. I regret not checking the others before now. Thanks for doing this-
July 25, 2008, 1 p.m. CST
and I think all "firsters" are douches. I am therefore the biggest douche in the world.
July 25, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST
Interested to see what you think of "firecreek" and the "Cheyenne Social Club", both late career jobs for old Jimmy Stewart. He apparently (according to the book anyway) didn't think too highly of them.
July 25, 2008, 1:11 p.m. CST
Pretty sure she was - and prolly when she was underage as well ~ He had a notorious taste for cherry splits. And let me guess - the connection to Ricco will be Chris Mitchum, Robert's hideously untalented progeny. Low-budget Italo actioner - featured people getting tossed into vats of acid as I remember - prolly in Tarantino's library.
July 25, 2008, 1:13 p.m. CST
claude should have reported him to the medical board. His wife's in hospital and he doesn't even visit? what a cad!
July 25, 2008, 1:49 p.m. CST
I kid, I kid. A good movie, as I recall, but it has been years.
July 25, 2008, 2:15 p.m. CST
so Go! Go! Go!
July 25, 2008, 2:26 p.m. CST
"I wish you'd stop calling her my daughter. She happens to be my wife."
July 25, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST
July 25, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST
Why would anyone with that attitude not only click the link but come to this site at all? If you have no sense of nostalgia you should probably get your movie news from IGN or Yahoo.
July 25, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST
If you care at all about writing and dialogue, this time frame tends to represent some of the best. Unfortunately most current films are self referential and "post-post modern" and the dialogue has lost that special snap.
July 25, 2008, 3:58 p.m. CST
by Raymond Shaw
There were a few scenes in "The Aviator" involving Hughes and Domergue. As I recall in the film she tried to run him over with her car after he broke up with her.
July 25, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST
First, I'm thrilled that an old film like this gets mentioned at this site! I agree more Rains would have made this a much better film, but I still enjoy it.... I reviewed it at Noir of the Week a while back. Keep up the great work (and review more film noir!)
July 25, 2008, 9:52 p.m. CST
Quint - So, if you are not going to have the list to the old stuff, can you by chance provide us a single page somewhere that you simply list every one of the M.A.D. columns you have done in the past? And then update it every day with the current movie? That would be nice since there is no easy way on AICN to go back and just sequentially look at posts. Or if there is, I don't know about it. :) (I welcome enlightenment if there is!)
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