Format: TCM Noir Alley
Director: Joseph Lerner
I had absolutely no idea what Guilty Bystander (1950) was, and it sounds like the making of the film is film-worthy in and of itself. I've seen enough low-budget films from the 1950's to recognize one when I see one, and it's positively weird to see Zachary Scott - five years earlier in blockbuster Mildred Pierce - and Faye Emerson, now married to American royalty, trying to save a picture through force of will and acting when the story is a mess and sometimes a scene just drones on for minutes past its expiration date.
Weirdly, it also has some fascinating stuff! Zach Scott plays an ex-cop who was maybe sliding toward alcoholism (as the very real Zach Scott was doing) when he made a mistake and decided to quit the force. Which led to him leaving the very-together Faye Emerson, who you think would have gotten his straightened out if he'd stuck around. She's tough, man! Anyway, now he's a hotel detective in a hotel that seems like it can't afford a desk clerk, let alone a detective. But mostly he just drinks. Until Faye Emerson comes and gets him to tell him his son has been... taken? Disappeared? Anyway, he's not home.
Scott then basically tries to stay sober through the film, and it's kind of weird and depressing to watch as he sometimes does have a drink and people give him drinks knowing they shouldn't. It's kinda heavy.
But it's also a mess of a movie that doesn't make a ton of sense, has some wildly convenient happenstances, and sometimes just refuses to agree that a scene is over or should change camera angles. I cannot imagine what chips were cashed in to get Sam Levene for his scene as Scott's former cop colleague, but they clearly only had him for a few hours, because... in many movies, they change camera angles. But I always like Sam Levene popping up.