Best known for his role as "Boston Blackie," Chester Morris plays a cold-blooded killer in the original version of a story, later filmed as The Dark Past, which explores the psychological causes for psychopathic behavior in a fascinating and unusually complex crime/suspense film for its time. Ralph Bellamy plays the sympathetic psychologist Dr. Shelby, whose quiet weekend in the country is disrupted by a group of thugs, including an escaped convict (Morris) and his gun-moll gal (Ann Dvorak). The doctor senses that the brutal murderer is tormented by something buried deeply in his subconscious, and decides to probe the mind of the man to try to give him answers and protect the lives of his wife, young son and weekend guests. Using innovative photographic techniques and faith in science, the film dramatizes the interplay between childhood imagination and experience, and the adult subconscious mind, while making the suggestion that environment is a strong determiner of psychological stability. Director Charles Vidor (Gilda) brought this fascinating, ahead-of-its-time subject matter to the screen. Newly remastered.
BLIND ALLEY, directed by Charles Vidor is a chilling psychological drama in the film-noir tradition reminiscent of the fine melodrama THE DESPERATE HOURS. Hal Wilson (Chester Morris) is an escaped killer who hides out in the home of noted psychologist Dr. Shelby (Ralph Bellamy). While Wilson's gang holds Shelby's family and servants hostage, the pipe-smoking mental doctor calmly tries to discover the reasons for Wilson's murderous proclivities. As gun moll Mary (Ann Dvorak) covers Shelby, Wilson willingly allows the doctor to psychoanalyze him, using hypnosis to trace the killer's childhood. BLIND ALLEY works as a "film noir" complete with surrealistic dream sequences. A taut story and moody cinematography by Lucien Ballard -- with sharp direction from Vidor, and superlative acting by Morris and Bellamy -- earn this film noir entry a top spot in the genre. The film was remade scene-for-scene in 1949 as THE DARK PAST, with William Holden as the killer and Lee J. Cobb as the unflappable head shrinker.
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