Scranton native Lizabeth Scott became the queen of film noir for her ability to play wised-up bad girls. See “Dead Reckoning” and “Stolen Face” for her ultimate walks on the wild side.
Even though “Dark City” (1951, Olive, unrated, $25) has a hardboiled atmosphere, complete with betrayals, violence and sweaty desperation, Scott stays above the fray. She plays an honest, hard-working torch singer who never gets involved in the dirty dealings of her shady boyfriend (Charlton Heston, in his first major role).
Heston’s troubles begin when he and two pals (Jack Webb, Ed Begley) hustle an out-of-town businessman (Dan DeFore) in a game of cards. Taking the sucker’s $5,000 seems like easy money, but then the guy hangs himself and suddenly Heston and company have to deal with the dead man’s revenge-crazed brother.
Heston hightails it to Los Angeles to try to find out more about the psycho before he becomes his next victim. While there, Heston, in a departure from most noir heroes, develops a conscience. He befriends the dead man’s wife (Viveca Lindfors) and realizes he has to make amends not only to her but to Scott as well.
“Dark City,” which was produced by Scott’s mentor Hal B. Wallis, doesn’t give its heroine nearly enough to do. In fact, she spends most of the film singing one sultry, semi-sleepy number after another.
That said, “Dark City” is still worth seeing, especially if you’re a fan of shadowy crime thrillers. “Dark City” can sit on the same shelf as “Criss Cross,” “The Big Combo” and “The Killers.”