Quicksand (1950 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Irving Pichel|
|Produced by||Mort Briskin|
|Screenplay by||Robert Smith|
|Music by||Louis Gruenberg|
|Edited by||Walter Thompson|
Samuel H. Stiefel Productions
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Quicksand is a 1950 film noir starring Mickey Rooney and Peter Lorre in a story about a garage mechanic's descent into crime. The film has been described as "film noir in a teacup... a pretty nifty little picture" in which Rooney "cast himself against his Andy Hardy goody goody image."
Plot and cast
Young auto mechanic Dan Brady (Mickey Rooney) takes $20 from a cash register at work to go on a date with blonde femme fatale Vera Novak (Jeanne Cagney). Brady intends to put the money back before it is missed, but the garage's bookkeeper shows up earlier than scheduled. As Brady scrambles to cover evidence of his petty theft, he fast finds himself drawn into an ever worsening "quicksand" of crime, each of his misdeeds more serious than the last.
His descent is sped along by his heartless and morally lacking boss Oren Mackay (Art Smith), and the seedy owner of a penny arcade on Santa Monica Pier, Nick Dramoshag (Peter Lorre). Brady and Vera split when Vera purchases a mink coat with money Brady has stolen. Brady's still-loyal but unappreciated former girlfriend Helen (Barbara Bates) then reenters the scene and tries to woo him back. Later fleeing what he believes will be a murder charge, Brady carjacks a sedan which happens to be driven by a sympathetic lawyer (Taylor Holmes).
By movie's end Brady is back with his faithful girlfriend, who promises to wait for him while he spends the next few years of his life in prison. Cast includes Jimmie Dodd, Wally Cassell, and Minerva Urecal. A young Jack Elam, later widely noted as a character actor in Westerns, appears in an uncredited speaking role.
Rooney co-financed Quicksand with Peter Lorre but their shares of the profits were reportedly left unpaid by a third partner. Most of the film was shot on location in Santa Monica, California, with exterior scenes at the old Santa Monica Pier. Swing era bandleader Red Nichols and His Five Pennies are seen and heard in a nightclub scene.
Bruce Eder of Allmovie wrote Rooney "...gives what many consider to be the best performance of his career" and characterized Quicksand as "one of the more fascinating social documents of its era." Fifty years after the film's first theatrical release DVD Savant noted, "the quasi-downbeat ending of Quicksand doesn't simply let him off the hook, [which] makes for an unusually mature ending."
Film critic Dennis Schwartz also liked the film, especially the work of actor Peter Lorre. He wrote, "Irving Pichel (Santa Fe/Martin Luther/They Won't Believe Me) helms in a workmanlike manner this fast-paced, suspenseful but minor film noir. It's written by Robert Smith. The main reason it's worth watching is to catch a sleazy Peter Lorre in action ... With Rooney going against type from his usual clean-cut Andy Hardy roles, the date-gone-wrong film bombed at the box office. It has since become a cult favorite among noir fans."
A display box of Bit-O-Honey candy shown by a cash register; Mackay's car lot where the movie takes place is overlooked by a Bekins building prominently advertising the Bekins moving company; Studebaker cars and trucks parked fill the lot; Dan's convertible is a Chevrolet; The booth where Dan and Vera kiss is a 25¢ Photomatic booth; A sailor asking Nick for change wears a US Navy uniform; The Cunocar van driven by the bookkeeper clearly displays the Cunocar Accounting Service logo in several scenes; Dan first tries to get the $20 from an EZ Money check cashing outlet; The bar Dan passes advertises Acme Beer; A stack of Coca Cola crates sit behind Shorty at Bill's place; Arden Ice Cream is sold at the pier (today's Gelson's Markets); The police officer's uniform clearly displays a Santa Monica Police patch; The jeweler sells Dan a Helbros watch, along with the Mackay Garage's wall clock advertising Helbros Watches soon after the film begins are early examples of product placement. Interestingly, Helbros produced the first electric Mickey Mouse watch around two decades later (up to then all were wind-up watches). Jimmy Dodd (who plays Buzz) was the original Head Mouseketeer of television's Mickey Mouse Club around two years later.
- Quicksand at the Internet Movie Database
- Quicksand at AllMovie
- Quicksand at the TCM Movie Database
- Quicksand informational site and DVD review at DVD Beaver (includes images)
- Quicksand is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Quicksand complete film on YouTube (public domain)