I'm a fan of film noir, and some time ago, I treated myself to a box set of vintage films in that vein. But I have only got round to watching them now, and I decided to kick off my viewing with Impact, from 1949, a little-known movie with a screneplay co-written by Jay Dratler, who had previously worked on the script for that much more celebrated film, the excellent Laura.
Brian Donlevy plays Walter Williams, who is introduced to us as a dynamic young businessman,able to twist a board of grumpy directors around his little finger. But when he goes home to his wife Irene (Helen Williams) a different side to his character appears. He is a "softy", quite besotted with her. This being a film noir, however, you can bet that Irene, for all her protestations, is not equally crazy about him.
The early scenes are lacklustre in the extreme, but things liven up once Irene persuades doting Walter to give a lift to a young "cousin" who is, in fact, her lover,.Jim. The plan is for Jim to drive Walter to a lonely spot on the edge of a cliff, kill him, and get away with murder. But Jim is not very bright, and things do not work out as he and Irene intended.
This is a decent piece of entertainment, and Walter finds himself trapped in a situation which just about validates the description of Impact as a film noir. Charles Coburn steals several scenes as a likeable cop. But the script is not as sharp as it could have been, and Walter's blind spot about Irene is rather hard to take. Worth watching, but a long way short of Laura . Then again, most films are.