Monday, May 7, 2018

'Double Exposure' unfolds at double-time.

Double Exposure (1944)
Starring: Chester Morris, Nancy Kelly, Phillip Terry, Richard Gaines, and Charles Arnt
Director: William Berke
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

The road to romance is rocky for editor Larry Burke (Morris) and photographer Pat Marvin (Kelly), with deception, jealousy, and frame-ups for murder getting in their way.

  "Double Exposure" is a fast-moving comedy that mixes up the familiar elements of fast-talking and quick-witted reporters; dodgy and eccentric rich people; romance complicated by social mores and deceptions; and a murder mystery that would be slightly less of a murder mystery if the police weren't lazy. It's a B-movie stew, but it's a tasty one.

This is a movie that hits the ground running and it never slows down, with gags and plot complications flying at the viewer non-stop. As mentioned above, the film is made up of familiar elements and there is nothing here that is terribly original, but what we have is so perfectly deployed that fans of movies from this era can't help but have fun while watching it. In fact, this film is so well put together that some of the things that usually annoy me--such as Insta-Romances between the male and female leads, and One-Suspect Murdery Mysteries--don't bother me here at all.

As a bonus for the modern viewer, the film also has some commentary on the challenges that career-oriented women had to face during the 1940s. The commentary is shallow and breezy, just like the rest of the film, but it adds an interesting dimension that may speak differently to us than it did to those sitting in the theaters in 1944.

The one complaint I have about the film is the soundtrack. I'm used to so-so and often bizarrely inappropriate music over the opening credits of these old B-movies, but it's rare that it shows up during the run-time as wildly inappropriate scoring. During a scene where Burke is trying to confirm his suspicions about who the real murderer is, we're treated to the happy, cheerful music that opened the film. I'm sure someone during editing said, "we can't have a scene this long that's this quiet... what will we do?" but then someone else made the WRONG choice when it came to "fixing" it.

But one "sour note" doesn't come close to ruining the overall experience of this film. It's well worth the time spent watching it!

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