Where Danger Lives (1950)

Written by John Chard on June 3, 2014

Amour fou.

Where Danger Lives is directed by John Farrow and written by Charles Bennett. It stars Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue, Claude Rains and Maureen O'Sullivan. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca.

Upon tending to attempted suicide victim Margo Lannington (Domergue), Dr. Jeff Cameron (Mitchum) falls in love with her and quickly finds his life spiralling out of control.

Classic noir fable here, which begs the question on why is it not better known? More so when you consider it stars noir icon and legend Robert Mitchum? OK! Big Mitch never once convinces as a life saving doctor, but for a sad sap heavy eyed portrayal who you gonna call? Why Mitch of course. Thus the pic actually gets away with this odd bit of character casting, as it does the average performance from the otherwise lovely Domergue. Domergue was being pushed forward as Howard Hughes' latest siren of the screen, she would never attain great status, but she would grace many a "B" picture and become a cult fan favourite.

Dr. Cameron has it all, a great job and a pretty nurse (O'Sullivan) who loves him very much, but one peer into the puppy dog eyes of Margo Lannington and he's in hook, line and sinker. Film essentially turns into a lovers on the lam story as the two lovers head for the border after leaving the scene of a crime. As the journey progresses and gets ever more perilous, Margo begins to show erratic behaviour, while Jeff is struggling badly with a concussion that grows evermore acute. They meet an assortment of odd or unsavoury characters, a low life car dealer, weasel pawn broker, shyster club owner, the latter of which is currently airing a rather bizarre cabaret show.

They stop over in a noirville town where it's "Whisker Week", a backwater place where you are required to traditionally sport face fuzz on this particular week. Not only that but Margo and Jeff, minus whiskers and in confused states, end up being coerced into a bonkers marriage ceremony. It's all deliciously off kilter, the characterisations and situations marrying up deftly with Margo and Jeff's mental disintegration. Farrow adds his own directorial flourishes to the edgy mix, and Musuraca's photography is consistently gorgeous. All told it's as safe as noir houses for those of such noirish peccadilloes. 7.5/10