Eye For Film >> Movies >> Quicksand (1950) Film Review
Here's a DVD release for what many consider Mickey Rooney's finest. Quicksand marked a change for the pint-sized, baby-faced gent: goodbye frisky musical and comedy capers, and hello harrowing film noir, and altogether more serious roles. Here Rooney plays everyman Dan Brady - an engineer with an eye for the girls and a serious dose of misfortune.
Quicksand has been labelled by some critics as one of the most harrowing film noirs going. It's not - mushy peas have been know to be more hard-boiled. If anything, Irving Pichel's drama is daintily fable-like. The moment Dan puts his hand in the till, his card is marked. In trying to dig himself out of financial and legal trouble, he only creates a bigger hole. Throw in a femme fatale (Jeanne Cagney), an expensive mink coat and an uncompromising arcade shop owner (Peter Lorre), and things quickly turn all too tricky for poor Mickey.
Pichel slowly builds up the pace and sobers the tone as Dan's life unravels. Forget the similarly-named TV double-act; Cagney and Lorre offer alluringly amibiguous characters, ones who all too easily undermine our well-meaning hero. It's doubtful whether Quicksand reflects the social uncertainty of the period, as some have claimed, but it certain proves the danger that slick operators offer to a gullible dufus like Dan. His descent is an enjoyable, if cloyingly predictable, fall from grace.
DVD and classic black-and-whites always have made for odd bedfellows: the ravenous detail of the former clangs inelegantly against the graceful simplicity of the latter. That said, it's appropriate that the best pre-Technicolours be available in all the main formats, and with DVD currently king of the home-entertainment castle, Quicksand's release is fully worthwhile.Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2009
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