Guilty Bystander

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Guilty Bystander
Guilty Bystander 1950 movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Lerner
Produced byRex Carlton
Joseph Lerner
Screenplay byDon Ettlinger
Based onthe novel
by Wade Miller
Robert Allison Wade
StarringZachary Scott
Faye Emerson
Music byDimitri Tiomkin
CinematographyRussell Harlan
Gerald Hirschfeld
Edited byGeraldine Lerner
Edmund L. Dorfmann Productions
Laurel Films
New York Film Associates
Distributed byFilm Classics
Release date
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

Guilty Bystander is a 1950 American film noir directed by Joseph Lerner, and starring Zachary Scott and Faye Emerson. The film marked the last motion picture screen appearances for character actors Mary Boland and J. Edward Bromberg.[1][2][3]


Max Thursday is an alcoholic ex-cop. The only job he can find is as a house detective at his pal Smitty's hotel.

Ex-wife Georgia comes to him in a panic. Their son Jeff is missing and so is her brother Fred. She didn't go to the police after being warned not to by Dr. Elder, a business acquaintance of Fred's.

The drunken Max tries to confront Dr. Elder, but is knocked cold. He wakes up in jail to learn that Elder has been killed and he, Max, is the prime suspect. Georgia gives him an alibi, though, so Max is let out.

Now sober, Max learns that the doctor was involved in a diamond smuggling operation with Varkas, a known criminal. He learns from Varkas' helpful moll, Angel, that the gangster's men are holding Fred hostage.

Max is shot by Varkas' thugs. When he recovers, Varkas is dead, and Max finally realizes that it's his old friend Smitty who's behind the whole scheme. Jeff and Fred and rescued and a grateful Georgia welcomes them and Max back.



Critical response[edit]

Film critic Bosley Crowther, writing for The New York Times, calls Guilty Bystander's plot as average but notes "... the slow, sultry, steaming sadism that is usually standard in this type of film is rather effectively accomplished. The photography is full of heavy moods. And some of the melodramatic action, such as a chase in the subway, is good."[4]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz panned the film in his review, but praised Zachary Scott's acting chops. He wrote, "Zachary Scott acts his butt off, but can't come close to saving this uninteresting film noir melodrama from how ordinary it is. It's a low-budget film that is saddled with a weak storyline and is poorly photographed. It's about a world of assorted losers: drunks, hypochondriacs, smugglers, and double-crossers ... There's just not much of a story here to sink your teeth into. The film's best asset is Scott acting out the part of a thirsty drunk."[5]


  1. ^ Guilty Bystander at the TCM Movie Database.
  2. ^ Mary Boland on IMDb .
  3. ^ J. Edward Bromberg on IMDb .
  4. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "An Involved Hunt", April 21, 1950. Accessed: July 13, 2013.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, October 24, 2001. Accessed: July 13, 2013.

External links[edit]