Dead Reckoning (1947)

Capt. 'Rip' Murdock: "I didn't like that salute, there was something final about it."
By John Cromwell
With Humphrey Bogart, Lizabeth Scott and Morris Carnovsky

After watching In a Lonely Place (1950) I was looking for similar movie and Dead Reckoning came up. It didn't take much to convince me to watch it: Humphrey Bogart's in it!

The film starts with Rip Murdock escaping the police and entering in a church. When he finds a father, he confesses that he is in trouble and he starts telling his story. Rip Murdock recently came back from war, along with Sergeant Johnny Drake and they are being moved to Washington but don't know why. In the train, they learn that they are to be awarded a medal of honor, but Johnny Drake doesn't seem too happy about it and he just wants to find the blonde he left before the war. Rip discovers that Johnny is not using his real name and a few minutes later, Johnny escapes. Rip then wonders around town in order to find out what Johnny was running from and Johnny himself. He will learn that Johnny joined the army in order to avoid troubles, and he will also meet his own troubles as well as the blonde and a certain Martinelli, who owns a club and gambling house.

Dead Reckoning's story is very well written, the mystery pulls you right in and the search for Johnny is finely executed, just like the dialogues. The story slows down after an hour or so and the investigation becomes a war of personal interest in a world where no one should trust anyone else. The romance elements are not necessary and don't bring much to the film, but they are set in this atmosphere of past mysteries and set up so even if the romance doesn't matter, the implications of trust that go with it are pretty important for the movie.

The lead actors both give convincing performances. With all the betrayals and lies, it makes it hard to know who is more righteous and whose interests are really on the line and I think this is why I felt the movie to slow down after a while. But I also have to say that it had started on an excellent note.

I liked: The narration. The psychopathic Krause. The use of scents and in particular jasmine. The mystery of Johnny. The morgue scene.

I disliked: The most over the top car crash. Some things are left unexplained, for example Louis' role.

I can understand if some people are disappointed with the movie overall, but I liked it. It had such a well developed story and the characters were all full of mystery, and the film was executed with incredible performances by the cast.


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