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: Manhandled (1949)  ( 377 )
cigar joe
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« : September 20, 2018, 10:25:15 AM »

Screwball Noir, another of the ensemble/quasi-comedy Noirs.

A small sub genre of  Noir, other films are Deadline at Dawn (1946), His Kind of Woman (1951), Shack Out On 101 (1955), and even Lady In The Lake (1946), has some of this quality, there are probably a few others lurking in the Classic Noirs. Neo Noir contenders are Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Seven Beauties (1977), The Late Show (1977) After Hours (1985), Down By Law (1986), Delicatessen (1991) and The Big Lebowski (1998).

Directed by Lewis R. Foster (Crashout (1955)).The screenplay was by Lewis R. Foster and Whitman Chambers and it is based on the 1945 novel The Man Who Stole a Dream by L. S. Goldsmith. The cinematography was by Ernest Laszlo (D.O.A. (1949), M (1951), The Steel Trap (1952), Kiss Me Deadly (1955))

There are two long running gags that go on throughout the film. The first is pretty much a sight gag concerning the brakes on police Detective Lt. Bill Dawson's (Art Smith) squad car. Every time they show up at various crime scenes they crash into different objects, the curb, a parked taxi, etc., etc. The second is the fact that insurance detective Joe Cooper (Sterling Hayden), is always one step ahead of the police detectives at every stage of the plot. These two jokes pretty much render the police into a bordering on Keystone Cops like looking force. Other lighthearted sequences are when Detective Lt. Bill Dawson (Art Smith) has phone conversations with his wife, a la Bob Newhart. It goes from a grocery list, to the topic of his daughter's piano lessons, where he tells the wife to "make sure she finishes" before he gets home. Another is where Dawson takes a sleeping pill, and then suddenly clues start popping and he's falling asleep. An example is in a Dry Cleaners where the clerk just assumes that Dawson is drunk, he's looking quite tipsy and she suggests to Cooper that he bring his friend home. It's dupe is a sequence at a Chinese laundry, and another with Dawson's underlings.

Alton Bennet (Alan Napier)

Karl Benson (Dan Duryea)

Irene Hervey (Ruth Bennett)

Merl Kramer (Dorothy Lamour) 

Dr. Redman (Harold Vermilyea) ...

Joe Cooper (Sterling Hayden)

Detective Lt. Bill Dawson (Art Smith) lt.

The story concerns a writer Alton Bennet (Alan Napier), who has a recurrent nightmare of killing his rich, wayward wife, by bludgeoning her repeatedly on the head with a quart bottle of perfume. He goes to a shrink Dr. Redmond (Harold Vermilyea) and relates all this to him and his secretary/transcriptionist Merl Kramer (Dorothy Lamour).

When Alton's wife is actually murdered in exactly the same way as described in the dream, of course Alton is immediately suspected. All her jewelry, insured for $100,000 also happens to be missing.

Karl Benson (Dan Duryea) is Merl's friendly downstairs neighbor.  It was Karl who got Merl the job with Dr. Redmond. Karl is an ex-cop who makes a living doing P.I. and collection work, bedroom dick type stuff, repos, bodyguard, small potato cases. Merl always fills Karl in on the crazy clients that show up for consultations with Dr. Redmond. Karl takes mental notes.

The rat and his rat

While cleaning up her apartment Merl finds a signet ring in a chair cushion. A remnant from a previous tenant? She pawns it, pays off the lay-away on a coat she wanted, and is soon visited by both Joe Cooper and Detective Lt. Dawson. The ring was listed as among the various pieces stolen from Ruth Bennet (Irene Hervey). When the authorities do some more investigating they find that Merl's references from L.A. were forged and it goes somewhat Noirsville.


Manhandled stars Dorothy Lamour (Johnny Apollo (1940)) and well known for the numerous "Road Movies" with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, as Merl Kramer, Sterling Hayden (seven Classic Film Noir) as Joe Cooper, Dan Duryea (nine Classic Film Noir) as Karl Benson, Art Smith (five Classic Film Noir) as Detective Lt. Bill Dawson, Irene Hervey (Chicago Deadline (1949)) as Ruth/Mrs. Alton Bennet, Phillip Reed (The Tattered Dress (1957)) as Guy Bayard, Harold Vermilyea (The Big Clock (1948), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Alias Nick Beal (1949), Chicago Deadline (1949), Edge Of Doom (1950), Born To be Bad (1950) as Dr. Redmond, Alan Napier (five Classic Noir) as Alton Bennet, Keye Luke (three Classic Noir) as Chinese laundry man, Irene Hervey as Ruth Bennett, and Irving Bacon (three Classic Noir) as Sgt. Fayle.

This film isn't supposed to succeed very well as a hard core noir but more as light comedy. Manhandled swings a bit to far in the comedy direction for its own good. Deadline At Dawn handles the balance much better, it isn't quite as obvious. It does have some good moments though, and some twists.

Duryea is playing his expected sleazy, slimy, no account, and he does this well to perfection. It's worth a watch but not necessarily a purchase. Screen caps from a TCM presentation. Café au lait Noir 6/10

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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« #1 : October 14, 2018, 11:46:04 AM »

A excellent film. I'm surprised there are no comments about this one. I gave this a 7.5 out of 10 over on TCM.  ANY Noir with Duryea in it is gonna be good...

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