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The Dark Past (1948) DVD

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The Dark Past (1948)


Rudolph Maté


Malvin Wald (adaptation), Oscar Saul (adaptation)


William Holden, Nina Foch, Lee J. Cobb
In this faithful remake of Blind Alley (1939), psychoanalyst Andrew Collins (Lee J. Cobb), his wife, his son, and some friends are taken hostage by escaped murderer Al Walker (William Holden) and his gang, including girlfriend Betty (Nina Foch). Collins, an advocate of rehabilitating criminals through psychiatry, induces his captor to talk about himself through the course of the night. By calmly and methodically piecing together the strands of the killer's unconscious motivation, Collins rids Walker of his literally murderous rage and prevents a massacre. Shrinks who practice in the noir universe are frequently painted as absurdly omnipotent. When not using their power for evil, like Dr. Cross (Vincent Price) in Alfred L. Werker's Shock (1946), they may be capable, like the benign Dr. Collins, of miracle cures. A more complex depiction of an unrealistically powerful, but ambiguously motivated, psychiatrist can be seen in Joseph Losey's The Sleeping Tiger (1954). In that British film, Dr. Clive Esmond (Alexander Knox) cures a criminal in a few short months but destroys his own marriage in the process.

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