Whiplash, 1948. 9/10

This haunting film has a great noir premise, and relentlessly builds suspense until it literally comes crashing down in the street. Dane Clark and Alexis Smith, even though they quickly fall in love, spend most of the movie angry with each other and with the world. Zachary Scott’s gangster character has the his goony hooks into his wife, Smith, as well as her brother, and Clark, her lover.

The three of them ultimately bring Scott down; with the brother sacrificed, and Clark nearly killed in the boxing ring. Despite the gritty tone, rough dialogue, and enough violence for a few films, there’s an innocent, civilized world, hinted at with the supporting characters’ scenes, that never quite goes away; and that finally replaces the noir atmosphere at the very end.

Scott, though clearly an evil presence, had his humanity blunted by the aftermath of his car accident, which Smith’s brother may or may not been responsible for. The only thing keeping them bound to each other is Scott’s emotional blackmail. His death, though obviously the result of his own murderous intent, is pathetically accidental.

Of the main characters, there is just enough goodness to rescue Clark and Smith, but no one else. A very well-written script, smoothly acted all the way around. 9/10

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