Film noir aficionados -- and just plain fans of good older films -- will relish Somewhere in the Night, a classic of the genre whose very title promises high contrast black-and-white photography, a hero plopped into a world in which lies and truths are difficult to identify and plenty of danger and suspense. It's all there, along with other familiar noir trappings like the femme fatale and questions of identity. So none of the basic ingredients of the plot is especially original -- and sometimes that plot gets a trifle confusing and/or a bit incredible -- but it's told with such style and assurance that it comes across as fresh and engrossing. Credit Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who not only contributed to the screenplay (which bears signs of his witty style in much of the dialogue) but also directed, his first time as a director from start to finish on a project. Mankiewicz's work is remarkably assured here. Aside from the opening sequences, there's little here that is visually inventive in terms of his storytelling, but it has a directness and clarity that is admirable. Besides, cinematographer Norbert F. Brodin is on hand to supply gorgeous, evocative, dramatic photography that makes any directorial tricks unnecessary. In the lead role, John Hodiak is surprisingly good, more than making up for the dull Nancy Guild opposite him, and the supporting cast is uniformly strong. All in all, a gripping little thriller.
by Craig Butler review