STAND IN HIS WAY..AND DIE!
A gangster takes a doctor and his family hostage.
A gangster takes a doctor and his family hostage.
“watch my smoke, professor.”
the poster for this is so funny. I keep thinking ralph bellamy is flipping off chester morris. it’s also a wildly inaccurate representation of this movie. who is that woman in the dress? what is that skeleton hand doing? wild.
If I ever get a time machine the first thing I'm gonna to is find Sigmund Freud and convince him to pick any other field than psychology so classic hollywood can stop drooling over his ideas.
A pack of sociopaths invades the lake house of an eminent psychologist giving him plenty to do while they wait for their getaway boat, and kicking off the Home Invasion sub-genre. The future Randolph Duke squares off against Chester Morris, psychoanalyst vs screwball, in one of those 1940s-50s Hollywood pictures constructed on wobbly Freudian dream analysis that if true could “cure” and empty our prisons. That said, Lucien Ballard’s negative dream sequence, with its black raindrops on the umbrella is rather fabulous, and his cinematography is as good as expected.
Watching Blind Alley and recalling The Petrified Forest made me wonder if these and other films about a gang of criminal misfits capturing a family influenced Flannery O’Connor’s masterpiece “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
It's hard in 2021 not to roll one's eyes at Blind Alley and its laughably simplistic, obnoxiously smug depiction of psychology, but it's also a rare film in which Chester Morris is actually asked to act, and getting to see Ann Dvorak play a role that embraces her innate intelligence is always a pleasure.
While the screenplay too often reduces Morris' job as the murderous Hal Wilson to aping the hundreds of dumb, violent gangsters that came before him, the scene in which Wilson finally remembers the event that causes his nightmare is genuinely powerful, and the gentleness that surfaces in that moment immensely moving. (Morris is also, like, Nat Pendleton swole in this movie, but that's a conversation for…
Cracking little thriller with Chester Morris giving a coiled, pugnacious performance as an escaped convict keeping psychiatrist Ralph Bellamy and guests hostage until he and his gang can make their getaway. The wonderful Ann Dvorak is Chester's girl, and in a few brief scenes she is able to display the aching need she has for the tough guy. Lovely acting from this pair.
Charles Vidor handles his material extremely well, given that Blind Alley is not an A picture. There are two striking dream sequences, one with photo-negative imagery, and his camerawork is nifty and fluid. The picture's minor status becomes clear at the denouement which is rather rushed - it could so easily have been spun out another 20 minutes and made a fine main feature. But we should be grateful for what we have, a tight, taut drama with interesting psychology and gutsy perfomances.
This early noir starts out well as a fairly unnerving home invasion thriller before devolving into a non-comedic precursor to Analyze This in which the bad guy is quite literally disarmed via Freud. Still, the performances are quite good and there's a dream sequence and a flashback that make good use of noir's expressionist influences. And there's Ann Dvorak, who despite being the lead gangster's girlfriend is depicted as fully as tough and capable as any other member of the gang (and they respect her for it). The psychobabble gets bad, though.
"You're like a man running down a blind alley in the dark. Running away from something you refuse to remember."
When ruthless murderer Hal Wilson (Chester Morris) escapes prison, he and his crew wind up taking a psychiatrist, Dr. Shelby (Ralph Bellamy), his family and guests hostage. What ensues is essentially an elite intellectual fantasy. Hal may have the guns and a crew behind him, but Shelby has a Freudian psychiatric education! All it takes for Shelby is the opening of a dialogue for him to expertly identify weaknesses and slowly erode Hal's defences and reverse the power dynamic of the situation with...dream analysis. The whole thing is pretty silly and approaches the dynamic between criminality, class and education in…
Apparently this was based on a Broadway play, and you can tell as it's very stagey and set-bound. It anticipates 1940s Hollywood's fascination with the workings of the mind. It's pretty hokey and Morris is really hamming it up, but it's always a pleasure to see Dvorak doing her thing: tough, smart and beautiful. The dream and the flashback sequences are a nice touch too.
Entertaining enough, but nothing to go out of your way to see.
Moral of the story: Marquis of Queensbury rules for fisticuffs may work to defeat a gangster with a hat, but they won't work on a gangster with a gun. For that you need PSYCHOANALYSIS~!
Criterion Collection - Home Invasion #1
A 69-minute (nice) Freudian ramblelogue embedding Oedipal complex in a rather unexciting inquiry on the criminal mind, “Blind Alley” happens during an unfortunate evening of a supposed convivial gathering at the Shelby residence. Dr. Shelby, who is also a professor of psychology, sees himself under lock and key, housebound, with his guests and family by the notorious, escaped convict Killer Wilson and his gang. Waiting for his getaway boat, Killer Wilson spends every passing minute in nicotine-stained anxiety and agitation. He circles Dr. Shelby like a curious specimen while Dr. Shelby looks at him as another case study. As the heated atmosphere mounts up, there begins the mental operation of psychoanalysis in the couch…
BLIND ALLEY has a highly improbable premise with characters behaving in ways that defy common sense given the situation. I believe I counted six improbable instances before I gave up, sat back, and enjoyed the film for what it was. Usually, such straining of credibility would cause me to shake my head and let my mind drift. Yet, BLIND ALLEY … for all of its improbabilities … was still an entertaining ride.
Much of this was due to the performances. Chester Morris as the “mad killer” with a recurring nightmare puts a great deal of energy into his portrayal. I really enjoyed Ralph Bellamy as the hostage psychology teacher who seeks to weave a mental revenge plot against…
An incredibly amazing idea that I would really be interested in a re make of, it lacks any sort of subtly and is one of the most in your face films I’ve seen. But I think certain modern day directors and writers could do something truly incredible with this story. This movie was entertaining enough though, I was never bored. I just really hated how it spoon fed everything to the audience