Movies and Film

Problems With Memory and Murder – Two O’Clock Courage (1945)


Two O’Clock Courage is a film noir about a man with amnesia and a dead body that is inexplicably tied to him. Running into a female cabbie, she decides to help the guy out, to discover who he is while trying to figure out if he is indeed the murderer and trying their very best to make their way through a number of kooky characters including the police and a tenacious reporter.

Though noir it might be, the film also features a fair amount of comedy – some of it at the expense of the main character and more subtle in nature, but most of it coming from the supporting cast who are decidedly ridiculous at times. It does make for a very entertaining time and provides more than a few chuckles and while the movie runs at just over an hour long, it is a very brisk hour, no thanks in part due to the laughs that are present. Richard Lane and Emory Parnell who play the reporter and police inspector respectively are responsible for much of the humour and they definitely steal the show when they are together on-screen, the chemistry between them being quite good. Such as it is though, the film is also quite dark at times, filled with greed, despair, sorrow and of course, murder. Tom Conway plays a man with no name, thrust into a world of doubt and fear. It is only through sheer luck that he finds such a trusting soul in Ann Rutherford, a light in the darkness so to speak and as things progress, even should he never regain his memory, things might turn out all right.

Anthony Mann would helm the picture, it being one of the earliest from his noir output in the nineteen-forties and one much lighter in tone than later films like Desperate or Raw Deal. Lighter fare or not, it still managed to drive its mystery home, the search for the killer who could very well be Conway’s character and it playing very much upon his mind. With a script by Gordon Kahn and Robert E. Kent, Mann would strike a great balance between light and dark through much of the movie – in his lead character, the lighting and more. Overall, Two O’Clock Courage would turn out to be a short, sweet and brilliant little film. It may only be a footnote when it comes to cinema and what that encompasses, but one well-worth checking out.

3.5 out of 5

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