- 1 hr 42 min
Cornered is a riveting film noir from 1945, directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, and Micheline Cheirel. Set in post-World War II Europe, the story follows Canadian airman Laurence Gerard (Powell) as he relentlessly seeks to uncover the truth about his wife's murder and his own past. At the outset of the film, Gerard is a man on a mission. Having recently returned from the war, he learns that his beloved wife, who had been living in France, was killed in a bombing attack. Though he has no proof, Gerard becomes convinced that his wife was actually murdered by a man named Marcel Jarnac, a collaborator who was supposed to have died in the war. Determined to avenge his wife's death, Gerard embarks on a dangerous journey to track down Jarnac and bring him to justice.
Along the way, Gerard encounters a cast of intriguing characters, including a mysterious French woman named Mme. Madeleine (Cheirel) and a ruthless Swiss hotelier named Melchior (Slezak). As Gerard delves deeper into the world of postwar Europe, he discovers a vast conspiracy that involves not just Jarnac, but also a shadowy organization known as the 'Phoenix', which may hold the key to his own troubled past.
The plot of Cornered is a tightly woven web of intrigue and suspense, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. Director Dmytryk masterfully creates a sense of impending danger throughout the film, using dark shadows, claustrophobic settings, and haunting music to build tension. The result is a film that is both visually striking and emotionally gripping.
The performances in Cornered are equally impressive. Powell, known primarily at the time for his roles in musicals and romantic comedies, delivers a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of a man plagued by grief and vengeance. His Gerard is a complex character, at once heroic and vulnerable, with a tortured past that slowly comes to light over the course of the film. Slezak, as the sinister Melchior, exudes a palpable menace that makes him a fitting adversary for Gerard. And Cheirel, while somewhat underutilized, imbues her role as Mme. Madeleine with a quiet grace and charm that makes her an intriguing presence on screen.
Overall, Cornered is a standout film noir that holds up remarkably well even nearly 80 years after its release. It is a film that expertly blends elements of mystery, suspense, and romance, with a captivating story that is sure to keep viewers guessing until the final frame. Whether you're a fan of classic cinema or simply appreciate a well-crafted thriller, Cornered is a must-see.