“Impact, the force with which two lives come together. Sometimes for good, sometimes for evil.”
Impact on TCM early one Saturday morning, and I was hooked. I sincerely apologize for my skepticism, and I assure my fellow film noir/suspense film fans that you’ll be on the edge of your seat watching this twisty yet surprisingly poignant film noir.
I first saw Brian Donlevy’s movies when I was a kid, watching Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass science fiction thrillers with my older brother: The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and Quatermass II: Enemy From Space, a.k.a The Creeping Unknown (1957). We of Team Bartilucci, especially my husband Vinnie, first got to know and love Donlevy in the movie versions of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass science-fiction novels, directed in England by Val Guest. Admittedly, Donlevy’s portrayal of scholarly British scientist Dr. Bernard Quatermass goes through considerable changes, probably to attract us excitable Yanks. Vinnie gets a kick out of these particular flicks; he feels that half the fun of Donlevy’s portrayal is that viewers half-expect Quatermass to just punch the evil aliens’ lights out, saving the world in no time!
|Impact's opening scene! All this, and proper spelling, too!|
- Leo C. Popkin (1914—2011) produced D.O.A. (1950); The Well (1951); And Then There Were None (1945). In fact, the Popkin brothers actually produced two movie versions of that beloved Agatha Christie thriller, first published in the UK in 1939 under the now-decidedly un-PC title Ten Little Niggers—swiftly retitled to And Then There Were None for the 1945 movie. It was also remade in 1965 as Ten Little Indians. Heck, we could write a whole article about both of those movies, but we’ll save that for some other time!
- Harry M. Popkin (1906—1991) co-produced both D.O.A; The Second Woman (1950); and The Thief (1952), the latter being especially memorable because its stars, including Ray Milland and Rita Gam, never say a word throughout this entire thriller! But that, too, is an article for some another time!
|Life is a circus at Walt and Irene Williams' home,|
the way she puts Walt through hoops!
|The Shadow knows — not! The tragicomedy of deadly errors begins with the unsuspecting Su Lin!|
|The lovely Irene is suitable for framing—or|
killing the unsuspecting Walt!
Aimless chitchat about cousins from Irene’s side of the family gradually gets Walt’s Spidey-Sense tingling a bit, with Jim’s little white lies about being in Italy during the war, and family info that “Cousin Jim” should have known. Alas, Walt gets wise too late; as soon as they’re alone in the dark fixing that flat on that lonely highway cliff, “Cousin Jim” snaps, “This is from Irene and me, sucker!” He klongs Walt on the head and rolls our poor unconscious-and-assumed-dead hero down the steep incline. But oops! What’s the matter Jimbo, can’t find your keys after all that hard work? See, you should always make sure you have your keys on you before you flee a crime scene! Now Jim’s the “sucker”— a charbroiled sucker after he smashes into a huge high-octane gas truck! *Tsk* *tsk,* what amateurs! It galls me to say it, but where are Phyllis Dietrichson and Walter Neff from Double Indemnity when you need them?
|"This is from Irene and me, sucker!"|
(Actual dialogue from the film! Poor Walt!)
Jim Torrance has monogrammed cuffs, thanks to Irene.
Guess he’s too chicken to get tattoos!
Oh, how tables can turn! Three months have passed, and Irene is charged with conspiring to kill Walt, with Jim Torrence still missing! After all the agita Walt’s been through, he decides to simply let evil Irene take the rap; who’d blame him? Eye for an eye, and all that! Ah, but Walt’s conscience starts needling him, with some gentle help from Marsha. He fesses up to his past and is ready to leave in order to keep Marsha out of it. Instead, Marsha convinces Walt to return to San Francisco together to substantiate Walt’s account of murder and woe. Well, they say no good deed goes unpunished: the police confront Irene with Walt, and being a poor sport, Irene immediately accuses Walt of killing Jim, claiming that she and Walt had argued after he refused to give her a divorce, and Su Lin could back her up! Poor Marsha is devastated at this turn of events for the man she loves, but Walt assures her he’s gained so much from her, and he wants to believe in the same values Marsha does.
|"What a nightmare! I dreamed Irene & her cuz|
were gonna kill me! It's real?! Calgon, take me away!"
|*Snif* thanks for finding my monogrammed hanky, Lt. Quincy. These |
hankies look ridiculous, but they're all I have to remember Walt by, along with a zillion bucks."
|Adorable Marsha Peters can be our grease monkey anytime!|
|Walt comes to
Larkspur, where |
people have the guts to walk under ladders!
|Even Larkspur's volunteer Fire Department makes Walt happy!|
|Marsha, Su Lin, and Lt. Quincy save the day for Walt!|
|But I can’t go to the slammer! They won’t let me have silk sheets!|
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