6.4/10
340
14 user 5 critic

Blind Alley (1939)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 11 May 1939 (USA)
Gangster Hal Wilson takes psychiatrist Dr. Shelby hostage. While captive, the doctor analyzes Wilson as though he were a patient.

Director:

Charles Vidor

Writers:

Philip MacDonald (screen play), Michael Blankfort (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Chester Morris ... Hal Wilson
Ralph Bellamy ... Dr. Shelby
Ann Dvorak ... Mary
Joan Perry ... Linda Curtis
Melville Cooper ... George Curtis
Rose Stradner ... Doris Shelby
John Eldredge ... Dick Holbrook (as John Eldridge)
Ann Doran ... Agnes
Marc Lawrence ... Buck
Stanley Brown ... Fred Landis
Scotty Beckett ... Davy
Milburn Stone ... Nick
Marie Blake ... Harriet
Edit

Storyline

Following a prison break, Hal Wilson, a ruthless killer takes refuge in the home of a psychiatrist, Dr. Shelby. While Wilson is attempting to make a safe getaway, Dr. Shelby is busily trying to analyze his captor and find out just what, in his dark past, made him the man he now has become. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

STAND IN HIS WAY..AND DIE! (original 3-sheet poster-all caps) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Afsporet See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was re-made as The Dark Past (1948). It starred Lee J. Cobb as the psychiatrist and William Holden as the killer. See more »

Goofs

The gangster's fingers are supposedly paralyzed, but when he pushes the "Insanity and the Criminal Mind" book back onto the shelf, you can clearly see him flick it into place with one of his "paralyzed" fingers. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Girls Who Like Girls (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in E flat major
(1830-31) (uncredited)
Music by Frédéric Chopin
Played on the piano by Rose Stradner
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Psychological crime drama has a few interesting touches.
14 November 2006 | by noir guySee all my reviews

Director Charles 'GILDA' Vidor's psychological crime drama has a few interesting touches as hard-boiled gangster Hal Wilson (Chester 'BOSTON BLACKIE' Morris) breaks out of jail, kills the warden and, together with his gang, hides out at psychology professor Dr. Shelby's (Ralph Bellamy) riverside home and holds him and his dinner party guests hostage whilst awaiting the boat to take them across the river to freedom. During a long dark night of the soul - and after Wilson has demonstrated his trigger-happy nature by murdering one of the male guests who stands up to him - Shelby manages to psychoanalyse the violent hoodlum and discovers what made him who he is. If this sounds somewhat familiar to crime movie buffs it's because it was remade nine years later as THE DARK PAST (with, respectively, William Holden and Lee J. Cobb in the principal roles of gangster and shrink) when the post-War trend for psychoanalysis may have lent it greater resonance. The culture clash elements in BLIND ALLEY would probably have resonated more with an audience of the day familiar with the narrative and thematic tropes of the earlier THE PETRIFIED FOREST but what makes this interesting today are some interesting stylistic touches like Wilson's recurring nightmare shown in reverse negative and his final recovered memory revealed in subjective I-camera point of view. Otherwise, the film never really betrays its origins as a stage play and often feels rather static and talky even with a running time of just over an hour. Still, it's interesting to see a couple of now almost forgotten 30s stars like Chester Morris and Ann 'SCARFACE' Dvorak as the hard-boiled gangster and his moll as well as a film attempting to do something different with the crime movie staples of the day even if it all inevitably seems a shade simplistic and formulaic in these more morally compromised times. However, it's an elusive title these days and is still recommended to fans of vintage crime movies who get the chance to see it.


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