Somewhere in the Night Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Even Andrew Sarris didn't think much of this nifty noir, but it's packed full of incident and is completely entertaining. John Hodiak stars as a serviceman who wakes up in a Honolulu hospital with no memory and a damning letter apparently addressed to him. With that one clue he searches for his identity and begins to wonder if he isn't actually a thief and a killer. It's hard not to feel for his plight. Director Joseph Mankiewicz (the eventual auteur of All About Eve) and his co-scenarists make sure that anything and everything happens to the luckless protagonist, including attracting the attention of criminals, a love interest (Nancy Guild), a femme fatale (Margo Woode) with interesting hats and a cop (Lloyd Nolan) who never wears one. In true Mankiewicz fashion, this is far talkier than it has to be, with things being explained long after we've gotten the point. There are also a few outrageous coincidences that strain credulity past the breaking point, as well as the most baseless romance in the history of the genre, the period and perhaps cinema itself. But for the most part, it's fast-paced, frequently surprising and never dull, with many of those talky words coming out just right and a never-ending stream of trials keeping you glued to your monitor. Extras include a terrific Fox Noir commentary by genre expert Eddie Muller that's everything a commentary should be; he's respectful of the material without being idolatrous and is aware of the film's more ridiculous elements while generally endorsing its main thrust. His wealth of fascinating background information would be a credit to any disc. Plus: trailer. (Fox)