Quicksand (1950)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Film Noir  |   Release Date - Mar 24, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 79 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Quicksand is one of the most harrowing examples of film noir ever made, and also one of the more fascinating social documents of its era. Mickey Rooney (who financed this film with Peter Lorre and saw both his and Lorre's shares of the profits stolen by their third partner) gives the best performance of his career as a well-meaning but not too bright schlub who finds himself sinking ever deeper into a maze of theft and assault, and even murder. Director Irving Pichel shows a fine eye for detail in both the performances and the action. Much of the movie was shot in actual locations on the sleazy Southern California amusement piers where it was set; additionally, the characters in the film, especially the men, act and talk like real guys, not characters in a movie -- the dialogue and the banter, and even the way they stand and interact with each other, all feels real and harsh. One gets a vivid sense of the texture of working-class life during that period, long enough after World War II for fun and games, and an easygoing approach to life, but with an underlying unease reflecting the era of Korea, the Red Scare, and the uncertainty lying just below the surface of American life. Indeed, the nature of the story and the dark, shadowy treatment of so much of the action seems to be an unsettling commentary on the fragility of the stability of life, made even more compelling by the accepted optimism of the era.