Monday, July 28, 2008

Impact (1949) Film Review

Plot Summary - Successful businessman Walt Williams (Brian Donlevy) doesn't realize his beloved wife is actually a wolf in sheep's clothing (or in her case, a wolf draped in the furs his wealth has given her). She has a secret lover, Jim Torrance, and the two of them have plotted an elaborate scheme in which Torrance is to murder Williams on a road trip to Denver. Up on a high road in the mountains, Torrance hits Williams on the head with a lug wrench, rolls him over the side of the highway into a ditch, and leaves him for dead - but the whole plot backfires when Torrance ends up hitting a gasoline truck head-on as he speeds away from the scene of the crime, and is killed in a fiery crash. Now the first twist - Williams isn't dead, but the cops think the body in the roadster - burned beyond recognition - is Williams. While his wife plays the "grieving" widow dressed all in black, Williams is devastated by the truth of his wife's true nature as he hides out in the small town of Larkspur, Idaho taking a job as a mechanic and hiding his true identity. Meanwhile a smart police detective (Charles Coburn) attempts to put together enough pieces to prove the wife and her lover murdered Williams.

Review - Interesting crime drama / melodramatic film noir with an absorbing plot full of twists and turns - quite entertaining. The film features lots of on-location street scenes shot in and around San Francisco - neat to see. The scene where the car crashes into the gas truck and both cars go over the cliff and burst into flames is well filmed, quite realistic looking. Note of interest: two actresses from the silent era have parts in this - first, Anna May Wong, who plays the Williams maid - a small, but key role. Second, Mae Marsh, who plays the mother of his "boss" at the garage in Larkspur where he takes the job - said boss being a pretty young lady who Williams "sparks" with. Nice to see both of these actresses in their later years, and both parts well done. And - I love Charles Coburn! This was a Netflix rental for me, the black and white print on the DVD looked quite good - the plot summary on the envelope inaccurate - again (where does Netflix get these)! Rating - 8 stars

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