Skip to content
Dark City – 1950 Dieterle
- William Dieterle’s film noir Dark City is probably best known for being the “introduction” of Charlton Heston (the film’s credits tout it being his introduction but in fact he had been in two films prior). It is a fine noir, costumes are by Edith Head and the big, bold jazzy score is by Frank Waxman (Rebecca, Sunset Boulevard).
- There is no voice-over here, nor femme fatale– Lizabeth Scott plays a woman in love with the young, handsome Heston. Scott is probably best known for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) and there are some great interludes of her singing in a club here. She has a low voice and even resembles Lauren Bacall a little. I’d say she’s 75% Bacall and 25% Gloria Grahame.
- One of the best features of Dark City comes from the fascination of watching Heston play a seedy heel. He reforms, of course, and turns into a noble, moral man with backbone like all the rest of the Heston roles but for that first half he’s playing like a Robert Mitchum sort of character. He cheats, knows all the angles, even pretends to be an insurance salesman to a widow at one point.
- Dean Jagger is good here, as is the sweaty Ed Begley playing a man with a conscience and an ulcer.
- A few scenes at least were shot on location in Vegas—you can see the Flamingo (which they turn into a place call “Swedes”)
- The narrative revolves around some small-time hustlers (Heston being the leader) tricking a man out of his money… he commits suicide and then his (unseen until the very end) brother, who is unstable, goes after them. The unseen brother is a killer with a ring, and you only see his finger. He’s a killing machine sort of like No Country For Old Men
- Dieterle is no great auteur—but this is just two years removed from his finest work- 1948’s Portrait of Jennie. This is one of four films Deiterle released as director in 1950.
- A very nice shot at the 95-minute mark. Dieterle places the camera under the bed, the dangling phone in the foreground with Heston behind it in the background.
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1950