The Dark Corner is remembered mostly for Lucille Ball‘s role in the movie, and that’s a pity. Not that Lucille Ball didn’t turn in a good performance; she did, playing “gal Friday” to a hard-nosed private eye with a shrouded past. The Dark Corner is an example of film noir, where the main character, Brad Galt (played by Mark Stevens, who ironically gets fourth billing in his starring role) is a hard-boiled detective, whose past is initially a mystery that gradually is revealed as the film progresses. He starts romancing his secretary, Kathleen Stewart (played by the lovely Lucille Ball as a secretary who starts working more as his partner in the detective agency), as well as investigating a shady character (played by William Bendix) who claims to be investigating him at the urging of a man from his past …
This soon leads to a murder mystery, where Galt has to clear his name while on the run from the law, that ties into a romantic triangle (no, not with Lucille Ball). It’s a very entertaining film, and I enjoyed it very much, especially the unexpected happy ending.
Editorial Reviews of The Dark Corner, starring Lucille Ball, courtesy of Amazon.com
The Dark Corner can’t seriously be proposed as a great film noir, but it’s one that people cherish. For one thing, it’s unique in having Lucille Ballâwho has absolutely no “splainin'” to do–as the smart, resourceful, devoted secretary of beleaguered private eye Mark Stevens. Lucy actually rates top billing, with Clifton up-to-his-old-Laura-tricks Webb and William vicious-brute-in-a-white-suit Bendix also getting their names above that of the hero in the credits. In this, there’s a certain justice; they all deliver the goods, whereas Stevens seems a tad lightweight as the hardnose, Phil Marlowe type cracking wise and punching his way through the mean streets. His character comes burdened with more backstory than usual for movie detectives; this time, the case the private eye has to solve is his own. The intriguingly convoluted screenplay (by Jay Dratler, who co-wrote Laura, and Bernard Schoenfeld, from a story by Leo Rosten) takes hold like a vise and sustains the tension even though, by rights, its credibility should be shrinking with each passing reel. Henry Hathaway’s direction is crisp, and the cinematography by Joe MacDonald (who would next shoot John Ford’s My Darling Clementine) is both pungent and gorgeous. With Cathy Downs, Kurt Kreuger, and Reed Hadley, who plays a police detective here but more often supplied the voiceover on Fox’s semidocumentary thrillers and Anthony Mann’s T-Men. —Richard T. Jameson
Product Description of The Dark Corner, starring Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball has a change of pace role as the loyal secretary of a private eye in this brooding film noir about a man being set up for a murder rap. Framed by his partner years ago, hard-boiled detective Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens) served a two year stretch for manslaughter. Now trying to start over, he spends his time serving his clients and romancing his new secretary, Kathleen (Lucille Ball). But everything changes with the appearance of a sinister man in a white suit (William Bendix) who’s apparently working for Galt’s ex-partner, Tony Jardine. When Jardine is killed, the police blame Galt. It’s another frame, but if Galt can’t prove he’s innocent, this time he’s headed for death row.
Movie quotes from The Dark Corner
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): How I detest the dawn. The grass always looks like it’s been left out all night.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): There goes my last lead. I feel all dead inside. I’m backed up in a dark corner, and I don’t know who’s hitting me.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): I’m clean as a peeled egg. No debts, no angry husbands, no payoffs — nothin’.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): I can be framed easier than “Whistler’s Mother”.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): One thing led to another, and he led with his right.
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): [whispering] Tell him you need two hundred dollars to leave town.
Stauffer, alias Fred Foss (William Bendix): [on the phone to Galt] I need two yards, powder money.
Mrs. Kingsley: Isn’t my Turner divine? Look at it! It grows on you.
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): You make it sound like a species of fungus.
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): I found the portrait long before I met Mari. And I worshiped it. When I did meet her, it was as if I’d always known her — and wanted her.
Woman in Gallery: Oh, how romantic.
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): If you prefer to be maudlin about it, perhaps.
Miss Dennis, Saleswoman: This is one of Donatello’s finest pieces.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): How much is it?
Miss Dennis, Saleswoman: $40,000.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): Wrap it up.
Policeman in Galleries: Hey, Mac. Do you suppose anybody in his right mind ever buys a piece of junk like that?
Policeman in Galleries: Sure they do. That is “art.”
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): Take, uh, Tony for instance. I’d never imagine him to be interested in … Lucy Wilding, but he is.
Mari Cathcart (Cathy Downs): It’s not true! He’s always loathed her.
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): He loathed her rather intimately, I’m afraid.
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): You should have William Powell for a secretary.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): William Powell … who’s he?
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): Don’t ya ever go to the movies? He’s a detective, in “The Thin Man.”
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): The enjoyment of art is the only remaining ecstasy that is neither immoral nor illegal.
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): My father was a major-league umpire. Well, what else [at the Tudor Penny Arcade] can I beat you at?
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): What other kinds of games do you like to play? You know, we’ve got some great playgrounds up around 52nd Street.
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): Among them your apartment?
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): Why, just a coincidence.
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): I haven’t worked for you very long, Mr. Galt, but I know when you’re pitching a curve at me, and I always carry a catcher’s mitt.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): No offense. A guy’s got to score, doesn’t he?
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): Not in my league. I don’t play for score, I play for keeps – said she with a smile.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): Why don’t you come over here, where you belong?
[Bradford pats the couch that he is laying on]
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): [Kathleen throws Bradford his mended suit jacket and proceeds to walk out Bradford’s front door] Well, if you’re feeling that much better, perhaps I better go home.
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): What’s done to you is done to me.
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): Lovers of beauty never haggle over price, Tony.
Stauffer, alias Fred Foss (William Bendix): It didn’t work. It was a busto crusto.
Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb): [Cathcart is at a total loss as to what this means] A what?
Stauffer, alias Fred Foss (William Bendix): A flop.
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): But, remember I can get any new tough guy for a dime.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): Here, get yourself two dozen.
[Bradford tosses two dimes at Kathleen across the table]
Kathleen Stewart (Lucille Ball): [Kathleen pushes them back towards Bradford] I rather pick you up at a rummage sale. I’m a sucker for bargains. Speaking of bargains, if you can’t get those nylons in nine’s, I’ll take eight’s or even ten’s.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): I’ll make a note of it.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): I’ll be at the Cathcart galleries absorbing culture. I don’t want to die ignorant.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): The stain … The ink, baby, the ink. I smeared ink on his white suit up in my office.
Kathleen Stewart: What of it?
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): He’d have to have the suit cleaned, wouldn’t he? The cleaners would have his address, wouldn’t they?
Kathleen Stewart: Well, this is a pretty dirty town. Cleaning places grow on every street like mushrooms.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): Yeah, but they don’t do their own cleaning.