A Movie A Day: WHERE DANGER LIVES (1947) I wish you'd stop calling her my daughter. She happens to be my wife.
Published at: July 25, 2008, 12:48 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Robert Mitchum joins us once again from yesterday’s THE BIG STEAL to today’s WHERE DANGER LIVES.
And what a fucked up weird little movie.
Okay, so Robert Mitchum is a doctor… see:
He’s a doctor who treats a beautiful brunette (Faith Domergue) who attempted suicide. He saves her and she falls for him. They start seeing each other, but something’s off. You can’t really quite figure it out other than it’s a weird movie.
Domergue’s character, Margo, is troubled. She tells Mitchum’s Dr. Jeff Cameron that her father is a little on the abusive side and very controlling. Cameron’s about to leave the hospital and start his own practice and Margo ends up talking him into putting that off and running away with her. Afterall, they can settle down in a small town and he can start up his family practice, right?
They hatch this plan over a bunch of drinks and Margo goes off home to pack. Mitchum is just pissed enough (in both the American and English sense of phrase) to follow her home and confront her father.
The movie played a little melodramatic up to this point. Not uninteresting by any means, but hardly memorable, but when this scene hit the movie turned a corner, thanks in no small part to the wonderfully charismatic Claude Rains who plays Margo’s father…
Or so we thought.
The subhead quote comes from him. Margo’s not his daughter, but his wife. Rains plays this sequence amused. He’s not jealous, but more on the amused side. He pretty much tells Mitchum he can have his wife, but he needs to know what he’s getting in to. She’s not a nice lady.
From here I thought the movie was going to turn into a mind-game a la an earlier AMAD, SLEUTH, but unfortunately the movie doesn’t move into that territory. Also unfortunate is Claude Rains’ exit from the picture. He’s little more than a cameo, which sucks because he’s so awesome in the 4 or so minutes he’s in the picture.
Instead of seeing Rains and Domergue play a sort of tug-o-war for Mitchum’s loyalty (or soul if you will) Rains ends up dead, seemingly by the hand of Mitchum, and the two end up on the run.
They play up the on-the-run paranoia very well… every cop they see is surely looking for them and they lose every chance of escape because of this paranoia. To add even more suspense is that Mitchum was knocked silly by a firepoker and he self-diagnoses a concussion, but they can’t stop to get him cared for.
I’m not sure how medically sound it is, but this pretty much gives Mitchum a ticking clock. He’s going to die if he isn’t cared for, so they run for Mexico in the hopes of making the border in enough time to get care on the other side.
But on the road Margo appears to grow more and more paranoid, more and more distant and Mitchum soon suspects Rains’ warning was true.
Like I said, weird, weird movie.
Final Thoughts: I think the more interesting story wasn’t told, one that would have featured Claude Rains a little more, and I can’t say this is the greatest movie I’ve seen, but it’s worth watching for the sheer “What the fuck?” factor surrounding the ambiguous and disturbing character of Margo. Of the three AMAD Mitchums so far, this is my second favorite behind OUT OF THE PAST and before THE BIG STEAL.