A scene from DANGEROUS PARTNERS, directed by Edward L. Cahn for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Dangerous Partners (1945, Edward L. Cahn)

Much of Dangerous Partners‘s excellence comes from the script. Edmund L. Hartmann adapted Eleanor Perry’s story, which Marion Parsonnet then from wrote the screenplay from–in other words, it’s hard to know who’s responsible for the script’s brilliance.

Partners has a complex, unpredictable plot–it constantly forces the viewer to reevaluate characters and situations. Added to that compelling mystery element (really, the plot is superior… it’s better than most Hitchcock just in terms of fluidity and inventiveness) are the characters. Again, it’s hard to place responsibility, but every single character in the film is incredibly strong. As it progresses, further depths reveal themselves… it’s just fantastic.

The film sets up five principals–John Warburton and Signe Hasso are married con artists, Warner Alexander is a businessman, Audrey Totter is his showgirl fiancee, and James Craig is Alexander’s corrupt attorney. Edmund Gwenn shows up as a mystery man in all their lives.

Of all the performances, Totter’s is the only one with any weakness. She recovers and does well.

But Hasso and Craig are absolutely amazing. Hasso’s cold-hearted con woman, just arriving in America to make a fast buck, is frightening. Especially when she cruelly knocks Warburton around to motivate him.

And Craig… Craig manages to make a reprehensible mob lawyer not just likable, but an excellent lead character. Craig really holds the film together.

So what’s wrong with the film?

Director Cahn. While his medium and long shots are rather uninspired, his close-ups are particularly disastrous.

Still, Partners still manages to succeed.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Edward L. Cahn; screenplay by Marion Parsonnet, based on an adaptation by Edmund L. Hartmann and a story by Eleanor Perry; director of photography, Karl Freund; edited by Ferris Webster; music by David Snell; produced by Arthur Field; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring James Craig (Jeff Caighn), Signe Hasso (Carola Ballister), Edmund Gwenn (Albert Richard Kingby), Audrey Totter (Lili Roegan), Mabel Paige (Marie Drumman), John Warburton (Clyde Ballister), Henry O’Neill (Police Lt. Duffy), Grant Withers (Jonathan Drumman), Felix Bressart (Prof. Roland Budlow), Warner Anderson (Miles Kempen), Stephen McNally (Co-pilot) and John Eldredge (Farrel).

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