Format: Noir Alley on TCM
Director: Robert Florey
Noir Alley is back, and I was delighted to see another movie by Austin hometown-boy-made-good, Zachary Scott. Danger Signal (1945) is a WWII-era potboiler that's of the noir flavor that has kind of become a thing in Lifetime Channel thrillers. Scott plays a ne'er-do-well who escapes the murder of a woman for whom he's managed to somehow plant a suicide note.
He winds up in an idyllic California town where he boards with a middle-aged woman and her stenographer daughter, played by Faye Emerson. He woos and wins Emerson, who doesn't notice the strapping, handsome, baritone-voiced scientist who keeps bringing her work may have the hots for her. Instead, she slips for Scott's charm. That is until her 17 year old sister comes home and Scott pivots his interest to her.
Emerson has a friend who is a psychologist/ scientist who gets involved (Rosemary DeCamp), and more or less tears Scott apart as the charming sociopath he actually knows he is. It's kinda cool. I was kinda there for Dr. Silla.
ANYWAY, Faye Emerson steals a vial of @#$%ing botulism from her hunky scientist friend and plans to kill Scott because, basically, he's a big shit bag and shouldn't get to keep being a shit bag who will hurt her sister.
It's a weird movie that seems like they just kept forgetting parts of the movie. Scott has a limp he fakes as a war wound that they just don't mention. A gun shows up, but is never really used. And the end is - weird. Like, totally unsatisfying. Which Muller discussed in the backmatter of the episode.
Anyway - Zach Scott is terrific, Emerson is pretty good, and I felt like the overall direction by Robert Florey was solid and built tension despite the narrative bumps. Special note for Mona Freeman who does a remarkable heel-turn in the back third of the film, and a young Dick Erdman playing "Bunkie", who is everyone's personal disappointment.