Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Which gives you the insane privilege to blow people to bits?
on 22 August 2011
Cornered is directed by Edward Dmytryk and adapted to screenplay by John Paxton from a story by John Wexley. It stars Dick Powell, Walter Slezak and Micheline Cheirel. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Harry J. Wild.
Story is set at the end of World War II and finds Powell as demobbed Canadian flier Laurence Gerard who returns to France to discover who ordered the killing of a group of French Resistance fighters, one of which was his new bride. Learning from his father-in-law that it was a Vichy collaborator named Marcel Jarnac, Gerard refuses to believe the rumour that Jarnac is dead and sets off on a trail that will lead him to Argentina where it soon becomes evident that Fascism is alive and well.
From the off Powell's intense miserablist Laurence Gerard sets the tone for Dmytryk's no-nonsense picture. Mood is set at revenge bleak and spills over into a humourless detective picture with huge anti-fascist leanings. As Gerard snakes his way from France to Argentina, via Switzerland, and heavy with a black heart, he encounters a myriad of shifty characters and traverses what would become a roll call of film noir locations such as dark streets, alleys and low lighted rooms. Wedge in some murder and grim violence and Cornered clearly isn't a film for those in need of a pick me up! It's also a twisty narrative, a plot that demands the utmost attention to follow what is going on. But that attention is rewarded with a spiky script that lets the number of characters really come to life, especially Gerard, who reels off a number of cutting remarks befitting his gait. Dmytryk (Farewell My Lovely/Crossfire) and Wild (Pitfall/The Big Steal) shoot it mostly as night time set-ups, thus enforcing the murky atmosphere, and Webb's musical accompaniment carries with it a ticking time bomb effect.
Powell (also Farewell My Lovely/Pitfall) and Slezak (Lifeboat/Born To Kill) shine in a cast list of mostly unknowns or stock character actors. The former broods convincingly, the latter is the epitome of sweaty untrust. But there are some fine performances in the support slots, notably from Nina Vale as slinky femme fatale in waiting, Señora Camargo, of whom little is known since her film career numbers only three. While Luther Adler (D.O.A./Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye), in the early throes of his career, menacingly strolls into the picture for the last quarter. Good stuff and recommended with confidence to film fans who enjoy some grit and blackness in their viewing diets. 8/10