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Where Danger Lives

Where Danger Lives (1950) is a film noir starring Robert Mitchum and Faith Domergue and directed by John Farrow for a Howard Hughes-owned RKO Radio Pictures. Mitchum plays the part of Dr. Jeff Cameron, a respected doctor who falls for the wrong girl. The girl is Margo (Domergue), whose husband (Claude Rains) strikes Cameron on the head with a fire iron before Cameron gets back on his feet to knock out his assailant. Cameron sees to his wound at the bathroom vanity (running water over his hair for some odd reason), then returns to the den to find the husband dead. From here on out things are muddled for Cameron due to his head injury, and he warns Margo he'll gradually become paralyzed over the next twenty-four hours. She convinces him to make a run for it, insisting they'll be accused of murder when her husband's body is discovered. And so they hop into the Cadillac and head for Mexico, stymied along the way by local law enforcement, a drunk driver and, most bizarrely, "Wild West Whiskers Week" in small-town Arizona, where the pair are fined for not having facial hair and coerced into tying the knot that night right there in town.

This short (82-minute) film isn't great, but Mitchum is entertaining, and I wonder how many bruises he got from all the scenes he falls on furniture or down stairs. There should've been more unconventional camera angles and an out-of-focus shot or two to dramatize his disorientation, and Margo's derangement near the end wasn't manifest enough to be convincing, or to meet expectations of the genre. I'd say the film's best moment comes after Margo demands the time from Cameron. The entire left side of his body is now paralyzed and so he's forced to lift his left arm with his right hand to check his watch. Best cheesy line (Cameron/Mitchum): It all fits in, all the symptoms. I didn't fall in love with a woman—I fell in love with a patient.


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