Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 1946. Twentieth Century Fox. Story by Marvin Borowsky, Screenplay by Howard Dimsdale, Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cinematography by Norbert Brodine. Produced by Anderson Lawler. Music by David Buttolph. Production Design by James Basevi, Maurice Ransford. Costume Design by Kay Nelson. Film Editing by James B. Clark.
John Hodiak is injured in battle and comes home from the war with amnesia and his face almost entirely blown off. The doctors manage to put his appearance back together (without the slightest scar!) but they can do nothing for the fact that he doesn’t know who he is or where he lives. The only knowledge that he has access to is that his name is George Taylor, and he is in possession of a letter about a Larry Cravat who might have more information. Following the clues of an address here and a random name there, Hodiak’s “Taylor” wanders the city of Los Angeles in search of his past and stumbles into a complicated plot involving two million dollars of stolen loot, and discovers that this Mr. Cravat is possibly responsible for committing a murder. Joseph L. Mankiewicz pulls off a wise trick by combining the dark shadows of film noir plots with the even bigger shadows looming over the country’s ever-present war veterans; thematically this film couldn’t be sharper, but in execution the script is overlong and its twists and turns leave a lot to be desired. Beautiful cinematography and a terrific cast are a plus (Nancy Guild is wonderful as the good girl who teams up with Hodiak in his search), but eventually the secrets being revealed aren’t that interesting and the last half of the film drags to an overdue conclusion. Character parts from the likes of Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte and Fritz Kortner liven the proceedings here and there, and Hodiak, in a rare opportunity for a lead, shows himself worthy of the central role.