Continuing my Noirvember journey through low-budget, lesser-known film noir titles today with Blind Spot (1947), not to be confused with the British crime film from 1932 or the British noir from 1958, all of which share the same title.
Blind Spot (1947)
Directed by Robert Gordon
Produced by Ted Richmond
Screenplay by Martin Goldsmith
Cinematography by George Meehan
Edited by Henry Batista
Music by Paul Sawtell
“I didn’t do it.”
Where have you heard that one before? Everywhere in film noir, but Jeffrey Andrews (Chester Morris) hopes it’s the truth. Andrews looks at himself through a cracked mirror in a crummy room, needing a shave and some coffee to sober him up. Instead, he takes another drink. Because this is film noir (particularly low budget film noir), Andrews tells us in voice-over narration: “I needed courage to do what I was forced to do that day. It isn’t easy to beg money from a man you’d rather kick in the teeth.”
The man in question is Henry Small (William Forrest, right), publisher of a variety of novels, including those of Jeffrey Andrews. Drunkenly evading office secretary Evelyn Green (Constance Dowling), Andrews barges in on Small and one of his successful writers, Lloyd Harrison (Steven Geray, center), demanding more money from the publisher. Harrison, a fan of Andrews’s work, tells him that he should forget about literary fiction and devote himself to earning some real money by writing crime fiction. “Forget about art, and write stuff people want to read,” Harrison tells him.
Writing a detective story? “It’s a simple matter of carpentry,” Andrews replies, dismissing Harrison’s suggestion. Yet, still totally blitzed, Andrews rattles off a locked-room mystery to Small, leaves with a sense of satisfaction that makes sense only to someone who’s snookered, and heads for… You guessed it: the nearest bar. Later, stumbling back to Small’s office, Andrews finds his contract, tears it into little pieces, and goes home to sleep it off.
The next day, the cops pay Andrews a visit. He confesses that he broke in and tore up his contract, admitting he shouldn’t have done it, only they want Andrews to confess to something else: the murder of Henry Small. What makes the murder so interesting is that Small’s murder is a locked-room mystery. Andrews knows that he told the publisher a locked-room mystery, but can’t remember his own storyline or find anyone he shared the story with that night.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the identity of the killer in Blind Spot, but that’s not the point. Chester Morris, a solid B-picture actor at Columbia who starred in fourteen Boston Blackie movies in the ‘40s, does a good job, but hams it up a bit too much at times. Geray is always wonderful, and Constance Dowling makes us wonder which side she’s on until the very end. Blind Spot is a nifty little movie with enough wise-cracking and noir touches to entertain you for 73 minutes. Unfortunately I found the film on the website ok.ru, which looks pretty bad as you can see from the smaller screen captures. But I do hope you’ll check it out.
Next time I’ll jump ahead several decades, taking a look at a neo-noir from the 1990s you might have missed.