Wednesday, 10 September 2014

STRANGE BARGAIN (1949)

Sam Wilson (Jeffrey Lynn) is a conscientious family man who can't make it through to the end of the month. But it seems neither can his boss who’s gone bankrupt and wants to end it all for the life insurance payout. 

Reluctantly Sam allows himself to be pulled into a plan that’ll make the suicide look like a murder. Sam’s supposed to get paid off in advance while the insurance company's expected to make good on the death claim. But of course in film noir things never go as expected.

This tense RKO programmer packs quite a bit into its one hour-eight minutes including a well thought-out story-line, a 'surprise ending' that's actually a surprise, and alert performances across the board. 

Jeffrey Lynn is real and affecting as a man at a moral crossroad, trying to negotiate the hopeless situation for which he's partly to blame. An under-rated actor, Lynn should have had a bigger-name career but unfortunately it never happened. 

Martha Scott, an actress who in time would be nominated for an Academy Award gives an impressively emphatic performance as Sam’s lovingly domesticated but take-charge spouse. 

Harry Morgan as the persistent investigating detective is as engaging to watch as always - likewise sturdy character actor Walt Sande as Morgan’s sergeant.

This modest B production is more than just put-together. Director Will Price made only three films in his short career, with ‘Strange Bargain’ being the first. It was a good start...



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