As a mystery, Footsteps in the Dark is only middling, but the presence of Errol Flynn in a rare comedic role raises it a notch. Certainly the ingredients are there for a promising film -- a wealthy, society-connected banker who spends his nights sleuthing and writing mysteries, all unbeknownst to his wife, who studiously disapproves of the books he publishes under a pseudonym. But Lloyd Bacon directs without a firm grasp of style, and the writers neither take full advantage of the comedic possibilities nor do their work well enough setting up a surprising mystery. Instead of coming together, all the ingredients float around separately, waiting for someone to find a way to make them fit into one film. None of this, fortunately, affects Flynn, who rises above the material and gives a deft, light performance that will surprise those who feel he can only do derring-do. Even better is Ralph Bellamy, whose villainy is nicely orchestrated. Brenda Marshall is fine as Flynn's wife, but can't overcome the poor writing that follows her character around. (The same goes for Lucile Watson.) Footsteps doesn't come together, but Flynn and Bellamy make it worth watching.
by Craig Butler review