Captain Murdock Returns From War Where Murder Waits For Him With Open Arms

“Dead Reckoning” is a noir crime film released in 1947 and stars the incomparable Humphrey Bogart alongside Lizabeth Scott, Morris Carnovsky, and William Prince.  John Cromwell is the director of this film which was written for the screen by Steve Fisher and Oliver H.P. Garrett.  The idea for the story is credited to Gerald Drayson Adams and Sidney Biddell.

The film starts off with Bogart, as Captain Warren “Rip” Murdock, stumbling into a church to meet with a former fellow World War II paratrooper who has donned the robes and collar of clergy.  Murdock has a story to tell in case the enemies he has made since returning from war catch up to him.

The flashback begins with Murdock’s friend disappears after learning he is to be awarded the Medal of Honor.  Murdock decides to conduct his own investigation and learned that his friend entered the military under an assumed name after being suspected of murder stemming from a love triangle involving a wealthy old man and his much younger  wife.  Lizabeth Scott plays the sultry, smoky-voiced blonde at the center of this mess. Of course, there is a crime boss in the mix as well. That role is taken on by Morris Carnovsky, who is fairly menacing in a campy sort of way.  He even has a psychopathic henchman to handle the familiar beatings given to so many of Bogart characters.

This kind of film is familiar territory for Bogart and he delivers his lines in that classic Bogart way.  Scott was okay as the femme fatale but some of the contemporaries of her time such as Rita Hayworth or Lauren Bacall could have sold it a little better.

This seemed to be standard Bogart fare.  I love the guy, but I am not sure he had that much of a range as an actor. I did get a kick out of the name of his character though.  Maybe I can name my hypothetical son Rip Murdock Kanelis.

The narration from the good captain became sort of intrusive as the story unfolds.  I am not sure that the whole business with the priest was all that necessary.  I found the overall cinematic viewing to be fairly average and just a bit disappointing.  Bogart himself is still the best ingredient in this particular concoction, but there is not much that felt all that unique.

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