Chicago Deadline (1949)

Genres - Crime, Mystery  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Chicago Deadline has some importance as a historical footnote: it was remade in Fame is the Name of the Game in 1966, becoming the first official "made-for-TV movie" and thereby launching a genre that has flourished ever since. So how is the original item? Deadline is an enjoyable, if not classic, film noir, a nuts-and-bolts mystery thriller that is immensely entertaining for getting its job done in an efficient and engaging manner. Some will find this efficiency a bit mechanical, and they have a point. It's well constructed, but for some the pieces will just fit into place a bit too easily, and it's hard to argue with the fact that Deadline is rife with clich├ęs. Still, the reconstruction method, the extensive use of flashbacks and the piecing together of the story do work, and that will be more than enough for some. It also helps that Alan Ladd is on hand to add a typically hard-boiled lead performance, and that Donna Reed adds her special presence to her victim role. Also of note is Shepperd Strudwick in a change-of-pace role that he really nails. Throw in June Havoc, Irene Hervey and Arthur Kennedy, and the cast is about as solid as could be wished. Lewis Allen directs tightly.