Movie Critique - Two O'clock Courage
Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: A plain story with a fun mystery plot with dashing leading man and supporting pretty female characters that leans more towards a comedy mystery film than a film noir. Yet look closely, it is a film noir in every way and thoroughly entertaining.
Two O'clock Courage is a 1945 American film noir directed by Anthony Mann, produced by Benjamin Stoloff with Tom Conway, Ann Rutherford and Richard Lane in the lead cast. It is a remake of the 1936 film Two in the Dark, both of the films were in turn based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Gelett Burgess. Screenplay for this film was written by Gordon Kahn and Robert E. Kent.
The Man (portrayed by Tom Conway) is an amnesiac who is almost run over by a cab being driven by Patty Mitchell (portrayed by Ann Rutherford). She helps him in finding his identity while he his being pursued by law enforcement on suspicion of murder.
Tom Conway is the brother of famous actor George Sanders. He is primarily remembered for his roles in British TV and Radio for his roles in detective fiction such as The Falcon, Sherlock Holmes, Bulldog Drummond and The Saint.
I saw two of his films - as Andrew Herdon in the 1940 Nick Carter's film Sky Murder; and Dr. Louis Judd in the 1942 American horror film Cat People. I can never forget his radio performances from the various episodes I have listened to so far on the old time radio podcasts.
In 1944 Tom Conway made another film The Falcon in Hollywood, the 10th of the 16th Falcon movie in the detective series, based on the famous radio show, in which Tom Conway also portrayed as The Falcon. Incidentally in that film as well Conway is aided by a female taxicab driver. Emory Parnell (who is Inspector Bill Brenner in this film), and Jean (who is Barbara Boden in this film) were also part of that 1944 film with Conway.
A good many films I watched of Ann Rutherford were from the Andy Hardy series that were filmed during the 30s and 40s. She was one of Andy Hardy's girlfriends, Polly Benedict. I also remember seeing her as Carol Lambert in the 1942 Whistling in Dixie along side Red Skelton. Her acting seemed consistent pretty much in all the movies that I have seen so far.
I think I saw a similar movie in which heroine helps the hero find who he was. I couldn’t remember the entire story nor the characters, but it definitely was not this film. Oh well, so many thousands of movies made, plots will bound to get overlapped or copied.
There are shades and shades of humor that actually helped the chemistry between Conway and Rutherford shine through. And the back and forth banter between Inspector Bill Brenner (portrayed by Emory Parnell) and Reporter Al Haley (portrayed by Richard Lane) is too good to be ignored. Their dialogues cracked me up at every scene. A few examples:
Patty Mitchell: The name is Smith. And nice to have to met you Mr. Heel..uh, I mean Haley
Al Haley: Can I get up now? / Insp. Brenner: No, you look good that way
Insp. Brenner: Oh, Oh, why didn’t I stay a simple cop walking my beat leading children across the street by the hand.
Al Haley: Well, Well, look where we find the love birds. / Patty Mitchell: I didn’t know they let vultures in here too.
The Man: Don’t you know that the only time butler ever killed anyone, was in a book? / Patty Mitchell: He never read a book.
A plain story with a fun mystery plot with dashing leading man and supporting pretty female characters that leans more towards a comedy mystery film than a film noir. Yet look closely, it is a film noir in every way and thoroughly entertaining.
1) Movie Trivia:
a. This is the first credited film appearance for Jane Greer who portrays the part of Helen Carter. She goes on to become one of the iconic film stars of the 40s and 50s. I saw her recently in the 1947 They Wont Believe Me as Janice Bell. She was credited as "Bettejane Greer" in Two O'clock Courage, the girl on the right in the picture below.
b. This is Director Anthony Mann's first film with RKO Pictures.
c. One of the characters in the movie is working on a manuscript titled "Two O'Clock Courage". Interesting way the film title is tied into the plot.
2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
a. When cops try to enter the room 212, three bullets are shot through the door. Then when the police gain access and door swings, the bullet holes are not there…and then a little while later when the door is shown again the holes reappear.