With this movie it is straight into mystery without even a couple of scenes to relax and get to know the characters. Two soldiers have been recalled from the battlefield and are being treated with suspiciously good care by the army. Bogart plays Captain Murdock who cannot understand what is going on. When he and his friend Drake discover they are going to be awarded medals, Drake makes a smart exit and is last seen standing on a disappearing train saluting Murdock with a smile on his face.
The director John Cromwell has made a great job of hooking the viewer right from the start. Like all the best noirs it is told in flashback, Bogart’s character telling a priest about what has happened. All the way through Dead Reckoning is an exciting and atmospheric romp. All the noir tropes are there, white shirts, black fedoras, fast dialogue and dark shadows. Sometimes the shadows are so dark you can’t make out who is speaking. Women that can be trusted, or can’t be trusted, or can be trusted, or… whiskey, slick one liners and back-projected car journeys.
Bogart has more misogynistic lines that he would be given in a film today, but Lizabeth Scott as Dusty gives as good as she gets. Murdoch might claim to not ‘trust anyone, especially women,’ but femmes fatales have way to get round those sort of opinions. The plot is complicated and to outline it would be to suggest spoilers that may or may not be true. Suffice to say it is a fun film noir that lovers of the genre will enjoy.
OK pal, you’re a pal. Geronimo!