The Dark Past

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The Dark Past
The Dark Past movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rudolph Maté
Produced by Buddy Adler
Written by Malvin Wald
Oscar Saul
Screenplay by Philip MacDonald
Michael Blankfort
Albert Duffy
Based on Blind Alley
1935 play
by James Warwick
Starring William Holden
Nina Foch
Lee J. Cobb
Music by George Duning
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
Running time
75 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Dark Past is a 1948 psychological thriller film noir directed by Rudolph Maté, and starring William Holden, Nina Foch, and Lee J. Cobb. The film, released by Columbia Pictures, is a remake of Blind Alley (1939), also released by Columbia, and based on a play by American playwright James Warwick.[1]


A psychoanalyst and his young family and some friends are taken hostage by a gang led by an escaped killer, Al Walker. The doctor gets the killer to talk to him in an attempt to find out the killer's unconscious motivation for his evil ways.

Walker relates a dramatic dream he's been having since childhood. Eventually, his crimes are traced back to his childhood and lack of parental guidance, and by the end of the night the doctor has calmed the killer's murderous rage and prevented any further killings.


Nina Foch and Lois Maxwell in The Dark Past


Critical response[edit]

When the film was released the film critic at The New York Times gave the film a positive review writing, "William Holden is excellent as the dream-shackled gunman, who is at once ruthless, nervous and explosively dangerous but who grudgingly complies with the doctor's 'screwball' tactics. As counterpoint is Lee J. Cobb's equally fine portrait of the unflustered scientist who is dedicated to 'curing people not killing them.' And, Nina Foch does a competently restrained job as the gangster's moll, who learns he's suffering from an Oedipus complex. The doctor's house guests, including Steven Geray, Adele Jergens and Wilton Graff, and their captors, especially Berry Kroeger, give unobtrusive but neat characterizations. Neat, too, is the word for this small but well-made Christmas package."[2]

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review stating the film was well acted, but called the film, "... pure Hollywood hokum."[3]


  1. ^ The Dark Past on IMDb.
  2. ^ The New York Times, film review, "William Holden Plays Gangster in The Dark Past, Columbia Film at Ambassador", December 23, 1948. Accessed: July 9, 2013.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, April 16, 2001. Accessed: July 9, 2013.

External links[edit]