Dead Reckoning (film)
Directed by John Cromwell Produced by Sidney Biddell Written by Story:
Gerald Drayson Adams
Oliver H.P. Garrett
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Music by Marlin Skiles Cinematography Leo Tover Editing by Gene Havlick Distributed by Columbia Pictures Release date(s) January 2, 1947 (US) Running time 100 minutes Country United States Language English
Dead Reckoning is a 1947 Columbia Pictures film noir starring Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott and featuring Morris Carnovsky. It was directed by John Cromwell and written by Steve Fisher and Oliver H.P. Garrett based on a story by Gerald Drayson Adams and Sidney Biddell. The film was originally set to team Humphrey Bogart with Columbia's top box office draw Rita Hayworth, but Hayworth was feuding with Columbia head Harry Cohn at the time, and sent the script back for rewrites. Incensed, Cohn cast Scott instead.
Just after World War II, paratroopers Captain Murdock (Humphrey Bogart) and Sergeant Johnny Drake (William Prince) are mysteriously ordered to travel to Washington, D.C. When Drake learns that he is to be awarded the Medal of Honor (and Murdock the Distinguished Service Cross), he disappears before newspaper photographers can take his picture. Murdock follows the clues and tracks his friend to Gulf City, where he learns Drake is dead – burned to death in a car accident.
Murdock finds out that Drake joined the Army under an assumed name to avoid a murder charge. He was accused of killing a rich old man named Chandler because he was in love with his beautiful young wife Coral (Lizabeth Scott). Murdock goes to a nightclub to question Louis Ord (George Chandler), a witness in the murder trial. Ord reveals that Drake had given him a letter for Murdock. Murdock also meets Coral and Martinelli (Morris Carnovsky), the club owner, there. Murdock's drink is drugged. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds Ord's dead body planted in his hotel room. He manages to dispose of the corpse before police Lieutenant Kincaid (Charles Cane), responding to an anonymous tip, shows up to question him.
Murdock teams up with Coral. Suspecting that Martinelli had Ord killed in order to get the letter, Murdock breaks into his office, only to find the safe already open. Just before he is knocked unconscious by an unseen assailant, he smells jasmine, the same aroma as Coral's perfume. When Murdock awakens, Martinelli has him roughed up by his thug, Krause (Marvin Miller), to try to find out what is in the coded letter. However, Murdock manages to trick his captors and escape.
Now suspicious of Coral, Murdock goes to her apartment to confront her. She claims to be innocent, but finally admits that she shot her husband in self defense. She gave the murder weapon to Martinelli to dispose of, but he has been blackmailing her ever since. In love with her himself, Murdock agrees to leave town with her, but decides to retrieve the incriminating weapon first, despite Coral's fears. He threatens Martinelli with a gun, eliciting some startling revelations. The club owner reveals that Coral is his wife. He killed Chandler and framed Drake so that Coral could inherit the estate before the bigamy could be discovered. Murdock gets what he came for and forces Martinelli to precede him out of the building. As he opens the door, Martinelli is shot and killed.
Murdock jumps into the waiting car and drives off with Coral. As they are speeding away, he accuses her of having just tried to kill him. When she shoots him, the car crashes. He survives, but she suffers fatal injuries. In the hospital, Murdock comforts her in her final moments.
- Humphrey Bogart as Capt. Warren "Rip" Murdock
- Lizabeth Scott as Coral "Dusty" Chandler
- Morris Carnovsky as Martinelli
- Charles Cane as Lt. Kincaid
- William Prince as Sgt. Johnny Drake/John Joseph Preston
- Marvin Miller as Krause
- Wallace Ford as McGee
- Robert Scott as Band leader
The New York Times gave the film a mixed review, praising Bogart as "beyond criticism in a role such as Dead Reckoning affords him", with "some of the best all-around dialogue he has had in a long time." However, it was less kind to his co-star, Scott, "whose face is expressionless and whose movements are awkward and deliberate." Though the plot was considered to be "rambling" and Bogart's character's actions not particularly plausible at times, "the suspense is skillfully drawn out."
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