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The Dark Corner

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The Dark Corner
Theatrical release one sheet poster
Directed byHenry Hathaway
Screenplay byJay Dratler
Bernard C. Schoenfeld
(as Bernard Schoenfeld)
Based onThe Dark Corner
1945 serial story in Good Housekeeping
by Leo Rosten
Produced byFred Kohlmar
StarringLucille Ball
Clifton Webb
William Bendix
Mark Stevens
CinematographyJoseph MacDonald
(as Joe Mac Donald)
Edited byJ. Watson Webb Jr.
(as J. Watson Webb)
Music byCyril J. Mockridge
(as Cyril Mockridge)
Color processBlack and white
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 8, 1946 (1946-05-08)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1 million[1]

The Dark Corner is a 1946 American crime film noir directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Lucille Ball, Clifton Webb, William Bendix and Mark Stevens.[2] The film was not a commercial success but has since been described as a "Grade A example of film noir."[3]


Private investigator Bradford Galt has moved from San Francisco to New York to escape a troubled past. He blames his former partner Tony Jardine for his problems. Complicating matters, he is hounded by New York police lieutenant Frank Reeves and pursued by a thug in a white suit. The thug is forced to admit that he has been hired by Jardine.

Galt suspects that Jardine is trying to frame him for a murder, but Jardine is part of a wider-ranging conspiracy involving wealthy art gallery owner Hardy Cathcart. With the help of his sharp-witted secretary Kathleen, Galt is able to overcome all of these obstacles and clear himself.



Fox paid $40,000 for the rights to Leo Rosten's story prior to its publication in Good Housekeeping. Rosten published the story under the pen name Leonard Q. Ross.[4]

The film's locations included office buildings in Manhattan, the streets of the Bowery and the Third Avenue El.[5] The arcade sequence was filmed in Santa Monica, California.[2]

Ida Lupino was initially cast as Kathleen but was forced to withdraw because of scheduling conflicts, and Fred MacMurray was originally slated for the role of Galt.[2]

Studio production head Darryl F. Zanuck borrowed Lucille Ball from MGM to play Kathleen. At the time, Ball was trying to break from MGM and had an "unsettled" personal life. A Henry Hathaway biographer wrote: "Early into the shoot, it was obvious to Hathaway that Ball was not concentrating on her job. After she flubbed her lines one time too many, Hathaway embarrassed her before her peers by ordering her to leave the set and actually read the script." However, some regarded the role as one of Ball's finer dramatic performances.[6] According to Hathaway, Ball subsequently apologized for her behavior.[7]

Hathaway described Webb as an "angel, but he never really was a good actor. He was a character. He was marvelous because he was so elegant." Hathaway said that The Dark Corner was "not a successful film. It was dead. Mark Stevens never quite cut it. Too arrogant, cocksure."[7]


In a contemporary review for The New York Times, critic Thomas M. Pryor called The Dark Corner "tough-fibered, exciting entertainment" and wrote: "When a talented director and a resourceful company of players meet up with a solid story, say one such as 'The Dark Corner,' then movie-going becomes a particular pleasure. ... Henry Hathaway has drawn superior performances from most of the cast. ... His fine craftsmanship is very evident throughout 'The Dark Corner,' and it is regrettable that he had to mar the atmospheric realism by resorting to scene-faking in a few sequences. But this is a minor shortcoming in an otherwise sizzling piece of melodrama."[8]

Also in 1946, Baltimore Sun critic Donald Kirkley wrote that the film "is very good indeed for this sort of uninhibited whodunit" and was "sparked by a most engaging performance by Lucille Ball" and "a very fine, hard-boiled portrayal of a tough guy by William Bendix." However, Kirkley criticized the script, feeling that Webb's character's motivation is unclear, and that the film often "speeds into high gear, but just as often relaxes into spells of relative inertness and tedium."[9]

The Dark Corner has a score of 100% at Rotten Tomatoes,[10] indicating overall critical praise. AllMovie rates it three out of five stars and calls it "a grade-A example of 'film noir.'"[3]

The film earned $1 million at the box office, less than the $1.2 million cost of production.[1]


The Dark Corner was overshadowed by Hathaway's other semidocumentary and noir films such as Kiss of Death and The House on 92nd Street, but it has gained a reputation as an underappreciated classic of the film noir genre.[11]

Bradford Galt's comment, "There goes my last lead. I'm all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner, and I don't know who's hitting me," has been described as a "prime example of existential anguish" that typifies film noir.[12]


  1. ^ a b Solomon, Aubrey (2002). Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 221, 243. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  2. ^ a b c The Dark Corner at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films.
  3. ^ a b "The Dark Corner (1946)". AllMovie. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  4. ^ "The Dark Corner (1946)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  5. ^ Jamieson, Wendell (2005-12-02). "Right Out of Film Noir, a Shadowy New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  6. ^ Pomainville, Harold N. (2016-06-10). Henry Hathaway: The Lives of a Hollywood Director. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 121–122. ISBN 978-1-4422-6978-1.
  7. ^ a b Hathaway, Henry; Platt, Polly (2001). Henry Hathaway. Scarecrow Press. pp. 204, 205, 206, 220. ISBN 978-0-8108-3972-4.
  8. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (1946-05-09). "The Screen in Review". The New York Times. p. 27.
  9. ^ Kirkley, Donald (1946-05-11). "Dark Corner". The Baltimore Sun. p. 10. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  10. ^ "The Dark Corner". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  11. ^ Smith, Richard Harland. "The Dark Corner". www.tcm.com. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  12. ^ Conard, Mark T.; Porfirio, Robert (2007-08-17). The Philosophy of Film Noir. University Press of Kentucky. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-8131-9181-2.

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