STAND IN HIS WAY..AND DIE!
A gangster takes a doctor and his family hostage.
A gangster takes a doctor and his family hostage.
If I ever get a time machine the first thing I'm gonna to is find Sigmund Freud and convince him to pick any other field than psychology so classic hollywood can stop drooling over his ideas.
“watch my smoke, professor.”
the poster for this is so funny. I keep thinking ralph bellamy is flipping off chester morris. it’s also a wildly inaccurate representation of this movie. who is that woman in the dress? what is that skeleton hand doing? wild.
A pack of sociopaths invades the lake house of an eminent psychologist giving him plenty to do while they wait for their getaway boat, and kicking off the Home Invasion sub-genre. The future Randolph Duke squares off against Chester Morris, psychoanalyst vs screwball, in one of those 1940s-50s Hollywood pictures constructed on wobbly Freudian dream analysis that if true could “cure” and empty our prisons. That said, Lucien Ballard’s negative dream sequence, with its black raindrops on the umbrella is rather fabulous, and his cinematography is as good as expected.
Watching Blind Alley and recalling The Petrified Forest made me wonder if these and other films about a gang of criminal misfits capturing a family influenced Flannery O’Connor’s masterpiece “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
Apparently this was based on a Broadway play, and you can tell as it's very stagey and set-bound. It anticipates 1940s Hollywood's fascination with the workings of the mind. It's pretty hokey and Morris is really hamming it up, but it's always a pleasure to see Dvorak doing her thing: tough, smart and beautiful. The dream and the flashback sequences are a nice touch too.
Entertaining enough, but nothing to go out of your way to see.
An incredibly amazing idea that I would really be interested in a re make of, it lacks any sort of subtly and is one of the most in your face films I’ve seen. But I think certain modern day directors and writers could do something truly incredible with this story. This movie was entertaining enough though, I was never bored. I just really hated how it spoon fed everything to the audience
This early noir starts out well as a fairly unnerving home invasion thriller before devolving into a non-comedic precursor to Analyze This in which the bad guy is quite literally disarmed via Freud. Still, the performances are quite good and there's a dream sequence and a flashback that make good use of noir's expressionist influences. And there's Ann Dvorak, who despite being the lead gangster's girlfriend is depicted as fully as tough and capable as any other member of the gang (and they respect her for it). The psychobabble gets bad, though.
Cracking little thriller with Chester Morris giving a coiled, pugnacious performance as an escaped convict keeping psychiatrist Ralph Bellamy and guests hostage until he and his gang can make their getaway. The wonderful Ann Dvorak is Chester's girl, and in a few brief scenes she is able to display the aching need she has for the tough guy. Lovely acting from this pair.
Charles Vidor handles his material extremely well, given that Blind Alley is not an A picture. There are two striking dream sequences, one with photo-negative imagery, and his camerawork is nifty and fluid. The picture's minor status becomes clear at the denouement which is rather rushed - it could so easily have been spun out another 20 minutes and made a fine main feature. But we should be grateful for what we have, a tight, taut drama with interesting psychology and gutsy perfomances.
Amateur Freudian psychology in a pulp crime story. Nightmare ridden escaped murderer Chester Morris busts into psychology teacher Ralph Bellamy's house while waiting for his boat out of there, only to get his head analyzed by the shrink. It's an interesting crazed film. Naturally simplifies mental illness, but for a basic B-movie like this it creates a special tension to the violent hostage situation. Definitely a watchable minor Noir-precursor.
I think it’s just sort of inevitable that any classic Hollywood movie about psychology is going to be dated and kind of corny. Sigmund Freud had all the easy answers, apparently. However, this was a really interesting watch regardless! It feels a lot more successful than Hitchcock’s Spellbound (which came six years later) in examining the psychology of dreams. And better at suspense, too 😅
Moral of the story: Marquis of Queensbury rules for fisticuffs may work to defeat a gangster with a hat, but they won't work on a gangster with a gun. For that you need PSYCHOANALYSIS~!
Blind Alley is over the top, bat shit! Engaging from start to finish. Overloaded with a repartee of gangsterisms like, “You See” and “Tell your kid, I’ll bash his face in.” But you’ll come to my defense and ask, “Man, are you stoney?” I’ll giggle and then fly away.
[My voice is now in your head.]
Chester Morris, Ann Dvorak, Ralph Bellamy, what.a.cast! I even loved the touch of the paralyzed fingers Chester brandished. So it might be cartoonish, but that’s what I loved about it. So what’s it to you, see. Its borderline campy, camp-noir. In fact, I’d pair this up easy with Dick Tracey (1990). Charles Vidor concocted a nice psychological thriller that will get you couch surfing in no time, aching to follow this up with a contender.
Streaming on Criterion Channel.
Nice brisk early film noir. This is filmed really well. The mobster in this is almost comical, ya see?
Look, I could sit here and review this film like your average reviewer, and really delve into it.
I could praise the film's cinematography, effectively conveying the progression of time, and interpreting the memories and dreamscapes of the mind. Trust me, it trully is something out there for an American 30s film.
I could praise the films quick sense of pacing and economy, even if it proves to be a double-edged sword at time.
I could praise the two leading performances of Chester Morris and Ralphy Bellamy as their respective characters (more on that in a moment).
But while that prospect proves enticing, I just can't do it for the life of me, because of the potential this film posits…
A really good early noir. Great setup and engaging throughout. A solid script. The psychoanalysis is a little hokey, but hey, it was 1939. The dream sequence is almost avant garde and the flashback is a nice set piece. Reminds me just a bit of The 39 Steps!
Glad I squeezed this in before all the Columbia Noir titles left Criterion Channel.
Tight direction and sharp cinematography. It’s a necessary viewing for those interested in noir. It contains all of the necessary ingredients of noir but doesnt have the right story to categorize itself as a hard boiled noir film. Thanks criterion!
"Blind Alley" is labeled as an early noir, but it's a slow drama with a crime-fiction premise. You can see its origin as a play, given that most of it is dialogue. The scenario is that a psychiatry professor has several houseguests over at his house, when one night a murdering gangster and his gang hideout at the house. They hold the professor and his guests hostage, while the gang waits for a boat to move them to an undisclosed location.
The movie is really a PSA for the psychiatry profession. It positions the gangster as a psych case for the psychiatrist to figure out. They end up talking a lot, and the gangster gets a lot of therapy. The…
Chester Morris' gangsterisms and stereotypical tough guy language, while I'm sure were a menacing sight in 1939, are more cartoonish and not quite as convincing as it would be if the dialogue was being spoken by James Cagney, for instance. "Ah forget it" or some version of "why I oughta" are repeated ad nauseam throughout. But Bellamy and Dvorak are another story, both playing on opposite sides, but utterly convincing in their roles as hostage and fugitive. I'm not sure when double exposure photography or German Expressionistic aesthetics were first used to symbolize dreams in American films, but it's done very well here and several years before Hitchcock's SPELLBOUND, another movie about using psychoanalysis on someone to get to the bottom of a crime.
A pulpy noir with some visual flare and stylish exploration of themes. A simple survive-the-night scenario is executed well as our hero's party gets crashed by gangsters on the run. Conflict rich, there's never a dull moment in this fast-paced thriller.
really solid early noir and if you ever did a 1930s gangster impression it was all of chester morris's dialogue in this, see.
The flash backs are really well executed and there’s some cool techniques here. The premise is interesting enough (if very clearly made for the stage), but oh boy the near 40s perception of mental health is a doozy to behold. If only it was this sweet and simple.
1930s & 1940s Hollywood psychology is the worst kind of psychology. The cinematography and the mercifully-short running time save this from being a complete loss.
pretty average crime picture but man the dream and memory sequences are fantastic.
Not bad home invasion flick with a Freudian kick.
There's something fascinating about the primitive or basic psychology of a proto-noir like this (recurring nightmares point to repressed memories, let's say) and the attempt to use it to lift it out of B-crime picture territory.
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