Where Danger Lives

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Where Danger Lives
Where Danger Lives.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Farrow
Produced by Irving Cummings Jr.
Screenplay by Charles Bennett
Story by Leo Rosen
Starring Robert Mitchum
Faith Domergue
Claude Rains
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Nicholas Musuraca
Edited by Eda Warren
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • July 8, 1950 (1950-07-08) (US)[1]
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Where Danger Lives is a 1950 film noir thriller directed by John Farrow. The film stars Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue (in her film debut), and Claude Rains. At the time, Domergue was the latest of Howard Hughes' protegees.


Dr. Jeff Cameron (Robert Mitchum) tends to an attempted suicide victim named Margo (Faith Domergue) brought to San Francisco General Hospital. She later checks out, but sends him a telegram telling him her address in case he wants to hear her story. To his surprise, he finds she lives in a mansion. He breaks a date with his nurse girlfriend, Julie (Maureen O'Sullivan), because he is worried Margo may try to commit suicide again.

As time goes on, he falls in love with Margo. However, when she tells Jeff that she is flying to Nassau with her aged father the next day, he shows up unannounced and boldly tells Frederick Lannington (Claude Rains) that he is in love with the man's "daughter". Lannington, however, informs him that Margo is his wife and that she married him for his money. Stunned, Jeff leaves despite Margo's pleas. When he hears her scream, he returns and finds her holding an earring ripped from her ear. Lannington starts beating Jeff with a fireplace poker; in the ensuing struggle, Lannington strikes his head on the floor and is knocked unconscious. Dazed, Jeff goes to the bathroom; when he returns, he finds the old man dead.

Jeff wants to call the police, but Margo insists they would believe it was murder. She persuades him to run away with her (Jeff's judgment is impaired by his injuries). They first try to use the airline tickets, but hurry away when they spot policemen at the ticket desk. They decide to drive to Mexico instead, taking the precaution of trading in Margo's convertible for a pickup truck provided by larcenous used car salesman "Honest Hal". At a stop, Jeff diagnoses his continuing headaches and mental fog as a concussion, warning Margo that it will lead to first paralysis of the extremities, perhaps even one side of his body, followed by a coma within 24 to 48 hours.

In Roseville, Arizona, they are taken to the sheriff, but it is only because Jeff is not wearing a beard for the "Wild West Whiskers Week". After Margo explains they are on their way to Mexico to get married, the police chief (Charles Kemper) tells them that marriages are a Postville specialty and insists they get wed there that very night. While Jeff is out of the bedroom of their honeymoon suite, Margo listens to the news on the radio; she becomes enraged when the broadcast discloses she had been undergoing psychiatric treatment. Later, after the couple sneak away, the police chief identifies Margo from a photo and alerts the border patrol. It is revealed that Lannington was smothered to death with a pillow.

In a border town, the fugitives sell Margo's $9000 bracelet to a pawnbroker for $1000. When the man sees that they are anxious to avoid the police, he sends them to theatre owner Milo DeLong (Philip Van Zandt), who offers to smuggle them into Mexico ... for $1000. As they wait, Jeff's left side becomes paralyzed. Then he finally realizes that Margo is mentally unstable and that she killed her husband. He decides not to go to Mexico; when he tries to stop Margo from leaving, she knocks him down, then smothers him. Fortunately, he was only rendered unconscious. He drags himself downstairs and out to the border crossing. When Margo sees him coming, she pulls a pistol out of her purse and starts shooting at him. The police return fire, fatally wounding her. Before she dies, she absolves Jeff of any blame.

While recovering, Jeff asks his doctor if he can send a flower to someone. The doctor steps out into the hall and sends Julie in to see him.



Critical response[edit]

Dave Kehr writing for the Chicago Reader wrote, "Director John Farrow nicely hits the nightmarish, hallucinatory qualities in this standard film noir plot: Mitchum spends the last half of the film barreling down the dirt roads of southern California with a brain concussion, passing out periodically and waking up surrounded by some of the bleakest scenery America has to offer."[2]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz liked the film, especially the work of Mitchum, and wrote, "Robert Mitchum is cast as a stable citizen, which goes against typecast...Danger is beautifully photographed by Nick Musuraca in the dark B&W style of noir and is ably directed by John Farrow, who successfully caught the nightmarish visions. It is interesting mostly as a character study of a capable man blinded by lust, whose life is almost destroyed. Mitchum is the innocent man who is framed and doesn't realize he is innocent until it is almost too late, recovering in the nick of time because he has such a strong character and will to live. Mitchum's convincing portrayal of the innocent man on the run, is what makes this melodrama compelling...The movie plays like a noir cliché. But Mitchum saves the day, realistically showing how a swell guy and such a competent doctor could be so vulnerable. Claude Rains as always is magnificent, in a small part but one where his every gesture seems to be constrained in a maniacal rage ready to burst open. His touch of madness is best exemplified by his mischievous smile while meeting his wife's lover."[3]

British film critic Neil Young wrote, "Though inexplicably little-known these days, Where Danger Lives is an absolutely cracking little film noir with an appealingly absurd screwball edge. The main credit for which presumably belongs not to director Farrow (father of Mia), but to veteran scriptwriter Charles Bennett - whose screenplays for Hitchcock included The 39 Steps, Young and Innocent and Foreign Correspondent, and later wrote Jacques Tourneur's Night of the Demon."[4]


  1. ^ "Where Danger Lives: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ Kehr, Dave. Film review, Chicago Reader, 1996-2008.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, November 17, 2000. Last accessed: August 28, 2008.
  4. ^ Young, Neil. Neil young's Film Lounge, film review, November 8, 2005. Last accessed: October 28, 2008.

External links[edit]