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Where Danger Lives (1950)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 16 November 1950 (USA)
A young doctor falls in love with a disturbed young woman, becomes involved in the death of her husband, and has to flee with her to the Mexican border.

Director:

John Farrow

Writers:

Charles Bennett (screenplay), Leo Rosten (story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Jeff Cameron
Faith Domergue ... Margo
Claude Rains ... Mr. Lannington
Maureen O'Sullivan ... Julie
Charles Kemper ... Police Chief
Ralph Dumke Ralph Dumke ... Klauber
Billy House ... Mr. Bogardus
Harry Shannon ... Dr. Maynard
Philip Van Zandt ... Milo DeLong
Jack Kelly ... Dr. Mullenbach
Lillian West Lillian West ... Mrs. Bogardus
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Storyline

One night at the hospital, young doctor Jeff Cameron meets Margo, who's brought in after a suicide attempt. He quickly falls for her and they become romantically involved, but it turns out that Margo is married. At a confrontation, Margo's husband is killed and Jeff and Margo flee. Heading for Mexico, they try to outrun the law. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

MITCHUM! ACTION! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

16 November 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

White Rose for Julie See more »

Filming Locations:

Palmdale, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The $42 Jeff gives Pablo to settle their accident would be the equivalent of nearly $420 in 2016. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Lannington: If you take her, it's a long road. There's no turning back.
Margo: [sobbing] Oh, Jeff, take me away, now!
Mr. Lannington: 'Now' can be a long time, Dr. Cameron. But time passes, and then there's the end of the road.
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Soundtracks

You May Not Remember
(uncredited)
Music by Ben Oakland
Lyrics by George Jessel
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User Reviews

Surreal film noir
11 April 2001 | by FilmFlaneurSee all my reviews

'A few hours ago I felt on top of the world. Look at me now'

John Farrow's film is one of a small number of interesting noir thrillers the director helmed during the late 40's and early 50's. Included amongst these productions are the bizarre comedy of ‘His Kind of Woman' (1951) also with Mitchum, and the magnificently baroque ‘The Big Clock' (1948), with Ray Milland. ‘Where Danger Lives', a powerful, dream-like piece, has some claim to being the best of these, being respectively less diffuse and grandiose than the other two films. Its strengths lay elsewhere, still founded upon the characteristic insecurities of film noir, but dwelling explicitly on the processes of mental aberration. This successfully induces an unusually strong atmosphere of hallucination - in effect replacing paranoia with psychosis.

Only at the end of the film does the dazed hero realise that he has really been ‘dating the patient' – the deranged Margo. Thematically this respect it is similar to Otto Preminger's ‘Angel Face' (1953) and Brahm's intricate ‘The Locket' (1947), again both starring Mitchum. In all three films the actor confronts femmes fatales with hidden psychological disorders, illnesses of the mind which serve to internalise and, to a certain extent, symbolise the confusions of the noir universe. In this film however, his character is himself mentally confused through concussion, adding a perspective of further disorientation. ‘I may be seem to be talking logically' says Dr. Jeff Cameron (Mitchum) at one point. ‘But what I say won't make any sense'.

At the beginning of ‘Where Danger Lives', Cameron is a man clearly in control of himself, his career, and his love life. Given the concern of the film with health and well-being, it is eminently logical that he should be a doctor (although not a psychiatrist, as Margo's first husband makes a point of establishing). His presence in the hospital is commanding, authoritative even, his future clear. The ebbing away of these keystones to his life - in effect an emasculation after encountering the suicidal Margo - is drastic and troubling. At first he is merely slowed by his own inebriation, then confused by her deceit. This is followed shortly afterwards by the head blow by her outraged husband (played by Claude Rains in his most typically urbane, menacing style), which creates a more profound effect on his mental capabilities.

This is a film dominated by Margo and Jeff on the road, and their crazed relationship to each other. Jeff's concussion and resulting moral confusion, and Margo's hidden psychosis, make them ideal partners in the bewildering and uncertain world through which they travel. Jeff's mental distraction makes him passive, vulnerable, while Margo's compulsions make her determined, wiley and strong. Ultimately it is this distortion in their relationship, in some respect a reversal of the usual sex roles, which gives the film so much of its intrigue. Once Margo and Jeff have found each other, in fact, they play on the same ‘mad' circuit, hurtling towards a crash, like the racers which stunned Jeff visualises buzzing ‘up and down' in his head.

Farrow's direction follows the trajectory of events perfectly. At the start of the film, he shoots Mitchum's tall frame framed within the cold certainties of hospital hallways, uncluttered and unshadowed. By the end of the film he is slumped, hidden and confused within shadowy hotel rooms, or stumbling along dark sidewalks. In between times, Farrow is able to enjoy himself with the surreal episode of the beards festival, (a peculiarly bizarre moment even in the extreme experiences of noir) which works well in the context of the runaway's own mental disorientation.

The most powerful scene in the film is the penultimate confrontation of Jeff and Margo in the border hotel. Shot in one continuous take, Farrow effortlessly manages a number of complicated set ups within the frame as the two protagonists confront each other, and their reduced options, while moving around the set. Margo's final attack on Jeff, her attempted smothering of him (as she had done to her first husband much earlier) is so frightening because Mitchum's big frame is now so handicapped and reduced. Close to the Mexican border, Cameron is also close to unconsciousness, coma, and possibly death as well. The cheap hotel room, the broad, the flashing window sign, the rising tide of panic with a departing prospect of ‘escape' - these are all of course entirely typical of the genre. But by the time we reach this scene it is obvious too that, here at least, real danger lives as much in the head as in the world of police and shady border deals.


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