Dead Reckoning is a 1947 film noir starring Humphrey Bogart. Bogart’s costar is Lizabeth Scott, one of the queens of film noir. This movie is their only on screen pairing.
The movie opens with Bogart’s protagonist, Rip Murdock, on the run from the police. Murdock’s face is bruised and bloody. He ducks into a nearby church in order to elude the police. While inside Murdock crosses paths with a priest. We soon learn that both Murdock and the priest are war veterans. Because of this connection Murdock begins to explain to the priest the events that led to this moment in time. The bulk of the film then unfolds in voiceover flashback sequences.
The major thrust of the film is summed up in a line of dialogue uttered by Murdock. “When a guy’s pal is murdered he ought to do something about it.” His pal Johnny Drake, played by William Prince, attempts to run from his past, to no avail. Part of his past involves Lizabeth Scott’s character Coral Chandler. Drake describes her as Cinderella with a husky voice. Murdock spends the majority of the film looking into the mystery of Drake’s death.
Overall Dead Reckoning is a solid piece of film noir. The story is well laid out. Bogart and Scott work quite well together. It is a shame that this is their only film together. Bogart’s voice overs are quite effective. The movie contains a lot of fantastic hard boiled dialogue. Visually, especially in the earlier part of the movie, there are some great examples of film noir cinematography.
Dead Reckoning is a film in Bogart’s filmography that tends to be overlooked. The film is a great viewing for film noir fans. The movie contains several noir staples, an attractive femme fatale, voice over narration, flashback sequences, etc. Dead Reckoning is a fine film to recommend for Noirvember.