This review is for Abandoned (1949). A crime film noir centered around a baby adoption racket?
What’s going down?
Paula Considine (Gale Storm) arrives in Los Angeles trying to find the whereabouts of her missing sister. The girl had recently had a baby before her disappearance. Asking for information at City Hall a local crime reporter called Mark Sitko (Dennis O’keefe) overhears the young ladies distraught conversation. He offers his services and connections to help with tracking down the story. Leading these two amateur sleuths to cross paths with a private detective and thrown into a shadowy world of black market baby racketeering!!!
The main players
Dennis O’Keefe – Mark Sitko
Gale Storm – Paula Considine
Jeff Chandler – Chief MacRae
Meg Randall – Dottie Jensen
Raymond Burr – Kerric
Marjorie Rambeau – Mrs Donner
Jeanette Nolan – Major Ross
Mike Mazurki – Hoppe
Will Kuluva – Little Guy Decola
Sid Tomack – Mr Humes
Tagline – NO NAME FOR HER BABY…only a PRICE!
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
Dennis O’Keefe has a giant collection of films to his name. Even so, I’ve only seen four, maybe five! T-Men (1947) is great and Raw Deal (1948) is awesome and he also stars in Fritz Lang’s Nazi assassination escape WW2 movie Hangmen Also Die (1943). One’s that take my fancy on a quick scan are The Fake (1953), Inside Detroit (1956) and I’ve been meaning to see this one for sometime, Walk a Crooked Mile (1948). So feel free to recommend me some O’Keefe’s please. The Leopard Man (1943) sounds great. Oh by the way, he plays Montgomery Brewster in Brewster’s Million’s original that Richard Pryor and John Candy would have a lot of fun with in director Walter Hill’s silly remake in 1985.
What a name, Gale Storm! You’d need to batten down the hatches when she’s about! I don’t believe I’ve seen her before but I like the sound of The Underworld Story (1950) where she stars with Dan Duryea and Howard Da Silva. I read that she was singer and even had her own comedy entertainment TV show called The Gale Storm Show (Oh! Susanna). No idea what it was like but I see it ran for four years.
Always good to see Raymond Burr in these early thrillers where he’d always be cast as the big brooding hoodlum with a temper. Though, I’ll let you know, he has the tables turned on him here by a larger more menacing hulk of a man. See next paragraph below to whom that might be. For classic noir with Mr Burr be sure to check the awesome Raw Deal (1948) with our leading man Dennis O’keefe and Claire Trevor. Also check Pitfall (1948) with Dick Powell. Then of course he’s in one of the greatest Alfred Hitchcock films, my personal favourite, Rear Window (1954). All before being immortalized as Ironside and then solving a billion Perry Mason cases.
Man mountain Mike Mazurki has a real unique presence about him. Hulking in at 6ft 5″ with his rough and craggy face. He’d find himself being cast as gangster muscle, a hit-man or some mindless brute or bully. A few of the films I’ve seen him in are Murder, My Sweet (1944), Nightmare Alley (1947) and the brilliant Night and the City (1950) Plus of course, the classic, Some Like It Hot (1959). He did get to become a leading man in a family adventure called Challenge To Be Free (1975) It sounds like an early take on the trapper on the run through the snow that Charles Bronson would do in the superb Death Hunt (1981). Which, by the way, was one of my very first reviews on this here movie blog. Bronson, Marvin and Apollo Creed Freeze Their Nuts Off! Hit me up with your menacing Mike Mazurki recommendations.
Notes on production?
Abandoned is directed by Joseph M Newman whom I didn’t recognise the name until I looked through his filmography and spotted one of my favourite Sunday afternoon 50s sci-fi adventures, This Island Earth (1955) Giant Cranium Alien Abduction Road Trip Through The Stars. Apart from that one I did spy The Big Circus (1959) that I’d seen as a kid and I’m sure I’ve seen the noir with the great title 711 Ocean Drive (1950) though I need to check my notes to make sure, as Edmond O’Brien in noir is always top drawer entertaining.
Jeff Chandler has a supporting role as Police Chief McRae. He’s not in the film for long but it would be his first major part before going on to films like Deported (1950) and Broken Arrow (1950) starring alongside James Stewart. He was building up a nice collection of films before he sadly died from blood poisoning after an operation for a slipped disc at the young age of 42. I’ve only managed to review one other of his films so far and that was tense and exiting bomb disposal film Ten Seconds To Hell (1959) with Jack Palance.
Hits like a sledge hammer
Ok! Spoiler alert! Press the button, sound the alarm! If you alright to carry on to the “hits like a sledge hammer” section then you have been warned…. Right here we go. “This is a little game we used to play after Sunday school!” Says the psychotic Little Guy Decola, played by Will Kuluva, with a mad glint in his eye. In a random scene that see’s the usual bully aggressor, Raymond Burr, finding himself the smaller guy. He’s beaten and held by the larger brute force thug of Mike Mazurki. The man mountain flips over Burr like a rag doll when his boss tells him to hold him down and lift up his arm. You see, Little Guy Decola wants information as he rips Burr’s shirt open to reveal his arm pit. When his questions don’t receive the answers he wants, he lights a match and shoves it in his pit whilst pulling down his arm. He’s enjoying it. He gets the whole pack and lights the strip, a genie we used to call it in our youth. The whole pack flashes with blistering heat as he shoves it back into the screaming Burr’s arm pit once more! For a torture scene from 1949 I don’t think I’d seen anything like it. It was quite shocking.
Mark Sitko, our newspaper man, is very handsy with our Paula Considine right from the get go. It’s funny to see in our generation.
Random Unrelated Bit Of Info I Just Learnt
I read that when Jeff Chandler’s good friend Sammy Davis Jr lost an eye in a driving accident and was in danger of losing the other, it is said that Jeff offered to give Sammy one of his own eyes! Not sure if that was possible back then or even today but that’s some offer to have made.
It’s a short sharp film that doesn’t really have any fluffly padding around it, just gets straight to the point. The camera work is good and we get a few interesting angles with light and shadows we do so love in these B&W thrillers. The two heavies are menacing enough for a 40s film. Probably the star of the show is the loving and caring Marjorie Rambeau who plays Mrs Donner the head of the society for looking after desperate young mothers to be. Everyone plays their part well but it’s that scene with Burr and heavies that will hit home. Oh, and a line delivered by Gale Storm “She didn’t know how to drive!” was good. It’s not essential but I enjoyed the different angle it took for a film noir. Abandoned was another top recommendation from Todd over at Cinema Monolith.
Wolfman’s rating 7/10 IMDB 6.6/10
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf