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
Peter Rodgers Organization
Quicksand is a 1950 film noir starring Mickey Rooney and Peter Lorre in a story about a garage mechanic's descent into crime. Directed by Irving Pichel, then under the shadow of HUAC and soon to be blacklisted, 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."
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.
- Mickey Rooney as Dan
- Jeanne Cagney as Vera
- Barbara Bates as Helen
- Peter Lorre as Nick
- Taylor Holmes as Harvey
- Art Smith as Mackey
- Wally Cassell as Chuck
- Richard Lane as Lt. Nelson
- Patsy O'Connor as Millie
- John Gallaudet as Moriarity
- Minerva Urecal as Landlady
- Sidney Marion as Shorty
- Jimmie Dodd as Buzz (as Jimmy Dodd)
- Lester Dorr as Baldy
- Kitty O'Neil as Madame Zaronga
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. The film's composer, Louis Gruenberg, a close friend of Schoenberg's and a great lover of jazz, was, like the director, already under investigation by HUAC in its witch-hunt for supposed Communists begun in 1947. By financing the movie themselves, Lorre and Rooney were giving their beleaguered colleagues a much-needed opportunity; despite this, both director and composer soon vanished from Hollywood.
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 wrote, "the quasi-downbeat ending of Quicksand doesn't simply let him off the hook, [which] makes for an unusually mature ending."
- Quicksand at the Internet Movie Database
- Quicksand at AllMovie
- Quicksand at the TCM Movie Database
- Quicksand at the American Film Institute Catalog
- 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)