Where Danger Lives (1950)

Where Danger Liveswhere_danger_lives
Directed by John Farrow
Written by Charles Bennett; story by Leo Rosten
RKO Radio Pictures
First Viewing/Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4

Frederick Lannington: ‘Now’ can be a long time, Dr. Cameron, but time passes, and then there’s the end of the line!

This noir might have been better without Howard Hughes “protogee” Faith Domergue.

Jeff Cameron (Robert Mitchum) is the kind of doctor who tells his small patients bedtime stories about Elmer the Elephant.  He is having a romance with nurse Julie (Maureen O’Sullivan) and buys her a single white rose every day.  One night Margo Lannington (Domergue) is brought in, the victim of an attempted suicide.  The good doctor decides to help his patient get over her loneliness and before we know it Julie is completely out the window and the couple are talking wedding bells.  Margo is immensely wealthy and entertains Jeff at home while her “father” is out of town.

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Margo begs off one of their dates to tell pops about Jeff.  He decides to show up unexpectedly.  When he announces his good intentions to Frederick Lannington, the older man Margo lives with (Claude Rains), he learns he is her husband and not her father.  Jeff wants nothing more to do with this situation and starts to leave.  He is drawn back by Margo’s screams.  He goes to her rescue and decks Frederick.  Jeff receives a blow to the head in the process.  He goes to get something for his pain and when he returns Frederick is dead.

Jeff wants to call the police but Margo manages to scare him into taking it on the lam.  Jeff diagnoses his own concussion and predicts he will become blind and paralyzed within hours.  In the meantime, Margo is suspiciously eager to avoid listening to any news about the murder.

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This is OK if farfetched  but I didn’t care for Faith Domergue’s acting at all.  She is very shrill and poor at screaming, which the script requires her to do at regular intervals.  Mitchum can’t help being the perfect noir hero, though, so there’s that.

Howard Hughes became infatuated with Domergue when she was 17, even buying her adoptive parents off with a house, and immediately signed her to RKO, the studio he owned.  The romance was off by 1944 but Hughes promoted her career until 1950 when Vendetta, a vehicle created for her, and this film both bombed at the box office.




2 thoughts on “Where Danger Lives (1950)

  1. I love this movie! It’s right up there with Detour and Too Late for Tears in the Great Films Noirs Sweepstakes, for me anyway. And I like the way Faith Domergue plays it, alternating between high drama and complete detachment. The young woman she was playing is severely disturbed, and I think that comes through in her performance.
    I haven’t seen it for quite a while. I’ve seen both Detour and Too Late for Tears within the last year or so but I really need to see Where Danger Lives again.

    • Maybe I should see it again! I was not impressed. Speaking of great films noir have you seen The Prowler? I watched it for the first time during one of my noir months and it ended up being the #2 new to me film of its year. Van Heflin plays an evil patrol cop! So good … So much subtext …

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