"Dead Reckoning" is a story told half in flashback by Captain Rip Murdock (Humphrey Bogart), a paratrooper just returned from combat in World War II. In the Southern town of Gulf City, Murdock is beaten up and on the run. Eluding his pursuers, he enters a church and tells his story to a priest so that, whatever may come, someone will know: A few days before, Murdock and a paratrooper under his command, Sergeant Johnny Drake (William Prince), were whisked home from Paris and put on a train to Washington, D.C., where Sgt. Drake was to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. But Drake took off while the train was stopped, and Murdock set out to find him. He followed Drake to Gulf City, where he discovered that Drake was a fugitive before he enlisted, having confessed to the murder of his girlfriend's husband. Murdock finds the girlfriend, Coral Chandler (Lizabeth Scott), in a nightclub owned by a man named Martinelli (Morris Carnovsky), who has a mysterious hold over Coral.
"Dead Reckoning" is entertaining but not thematically sophisticated. The dialogue is fine, but not clever or sharp. The character writing is superficial. This isn't top-tier film noir, but it does have Humphrey Bogart's charisma and Lizabeth Scott's sultry voice and great looks. Coral Chandler is one of the most manipulative femme fatales in film noir. In fact, she is the center of the film's only discernible theme: You can't trust women. I've rarely seen a film with such an overt anti-female premise. Normally I find femme fatales to be a refreshingly unsentimental image of women. But Murdock is relentless in proclaiming women to be deceitful and castigating Coral. -And he falls under her spell anyway. So it's all very amusing. "Dead Reckoning" isn't a great film, but it's solid entertainment with high-power stars.
The DVD (Columbia/Tristar 2002): The print of the film is good, but not restored. There are some small white specks, but not enough to be distracting. Bonus features include "The Bogart Collection" (4 minutes), which is scrolling text about Bogart's career followed by some posters of his films. "Vintage Advertising" is 3 posters for the film. Subtitles for the film are available in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean.
on January 15, 2003
Having just finished watching two new Columbia releases on DVD, I feel both pleased and angry! First out was "The Devil at 4 O'Clock. Super transfer - fine contrast, properly letterboxed, correct color and mostly very sharp! Then I watch "Dead Reckoning"! Were the people at Columbia asleep when they made this transfer to DVD? Speckles galore all the way! Grainy as all get out! Lousy greyscale! No really black and white areas to be found anywhere! And a strange pulsating image in the darker scenes! "Remastered in High Definition" it says on the box! Bull!
I do not expect a bells-and-whistles restoration for a title like this. But I do expect that someone cares to remove dirt and scratches, and improve other defects within a reasonable budget.
Surely, this noir classic must be able to look better than what we have here! Was the best print really located in the Columbia vaults? You wonder! This is a boring question I often ask myself after having watched a Columbia DVD. Mind you, many are splendid indeed. But for every goodie comes a "Dead Reckoning", or a "Eddy Duchin Story", or a "Big Heat", etc. The labels shift in care from one title to another is puzzling! And there is so much up for release soon! Hopefully someone will blow the whistle before more classics get the substandard treatment! We fans want the Columbia gal to sparkle like her torch!
on January 13, 2005
I don't want to call anyone silly, or a THIEF for pirating movies,(just look at the reviews, you'll find him) but just so everyone (and certainly someone in particular) who complains about this Columbia dvd not being widescreen understands, this move WAS NEVER MADE IN WIDESCREEN! The first widescreen movie in America was "The Robe", released in 1953. Do a little research before you start bashing film noir (minor) classics like this Bogart picture. There were NO WIDESCREEN MOVIES BEFORE 1953! Now as for this dvd.
I Thought the transfer showed very little wear. All-in-all Columbia did a very nice job here of cleaning up the print. My only complaint with Columbia is how pricey they seem to think their dvd movies are. Still, this is a good pot-boiler drama, and Bogart is the best. I can leave or take Lizabeth Scott in this role as the femm fatalle, another leading lady might've been better; she's not a bad actress, I just prefer a lot of other leading ladies of that time period; she does have a certain bad girl sex-appeal that helps her performance.
If you're not familiar with the story, Bogart plays Rip Murdock, an ex-G.I. returning from the war who suddenly finds himself trying to clear his war-buddy of a murder rap, and then solve his friends murder. Bogarts character tangles with the dark underworld, mixing it up with killers and a lovely blonde. This movie has a nice, dark feel to it. Not as dark as say, "In A Lonely Place" (also Columbia), but still very nice.
I liked this film enough to put out the money, and if you are an honest person who loves old Bogey pictures, then you'll put out the money as well. Do all of us honest people a favor, don't help drive up the cost of dvds by supporting pirating like some other goofball suggests. You will never get as good a digital copy by burning your own, unless you're willing to do two things: Buy the most expensive digital recorder you can find, and drop any integrity you have into the ditch to steal a copy.
on June 3, 2000
By 1946 Humphrey Bogart had become one of the most commanding screen stars in Hollywood. Having been featured in a string of critically acclaimed films such as: Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, and The Big Sleep, Bogart often breezed through some forgettable pictures as Conflict, The Two Mrs. Carrolls, and Tokyo Joe. John Cromwell's Dead Reckoning is one such film in which Bogart gives a mediocre performance as WWII paratrooper Rip Murdock who investigates the death of his buddy John Drake ( William Prince)who was about to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Even the casting of luscious Lizabeth Scott who had become a sexy noir staple did nothing to elevate the film to a notable hierarchy. Rip Murdock ( Bogart) deadpans through most of the script by Oliver Garrett without the appeal and freshness exhibited by former personas such as: Sam Spade, Harry Morgan or the indelible cafe owner Rick. The chemistry betwee Carol Chandler ( Lizabeth Scott) and Rip is tepid. Maybe Bogart's recent marriage to beautiful actress and three time co-star Lauren Bacall dimmed the sexual innuendo that Bogart usually shared with his leading ladies. Although Bogart's narrative voice-over, borrowed shamelessly from Double Indemnity describes Coral Chandler as "Cinderella with a husky voice" , the two characters never break through the pretense of refinement. The film does contain essential themes of noir- murder, deceit, and betrayal. These ingredients are played against a backdrop of glistening city streets, casino-nightclubs, and shadowy hotel rooms, but even the cast of nefarious figures fails to free the film from its own trappings. Probably one of the most inexcusable scenes ever shot for a noir film occurs during Scott's hospital bed plea for redemption. After being involved in an eighty mile an hour, window shattering, car accident, Scott's beautiful face does not contain a single cut, scrape, or bruise. Scott is bandaged in a white head wrap and highlighted by a halo of light which only enhances the unbelievable state of her physical condition. What was director Cromwell thinking about? At least when Bogie enters the hospital room Cromwell had the sense to fit him with an arm cast. Dead Reckoning is worth owning, but only to complete a Bogart or Scott video collection.
A lot of reviewers are prejudiced against this film because it stars beautiful and sultry Lizabeth Scott instead of the familiar Bacall. They are wrong. Scott is terrific and this is one of Bogart's best films, full of atmosphere and crisp dialog. Bogart comes to Gulf City to clear his Army buddy's name and gets tangeled up with the beautiful Lizabeth Scott in a town where nothing is on the up and up.
There is some truly original banter between Bogart and Scott. A wonderful scene has Bogart explaining to Scott how a woman should be kept in a mans pocket, taken out only when needed. They are driving in a convertible with the wind blowing Scott's long blonde hair and when she laughs at this idea we can tell something is going on inside for both of them.
There is a subtle noir atmosphere all the way through this film. Scott wears perfume that smells like night blooming jasmine. Bogart is sitting next to an open window in his hotel room deep into this mystery when he catches the scent drifting in the wind, unsure if Scott is around or if it is just the bushes outside. The entire film is like that.
There are other great scenes, like Scott standing in the rain at night, her fate being decided in a single moment. This is a marvelous film and it doesn't lessen the Bogart and Bacall films to say that Bogart and Scott made a great team also. It is a shame they did not get a chance to make another one together. I strongly suggest a trip to Gulf City to find out just how spectacular they were together on the big screen.
on January 21, 2004
I watched this flick back to back with "The Maltese Falcon", and I must say, "Dead Reckoning" was MUCH more enjoyable. Outside of Bogey's inherent coolness, there wasn't much else in "The Maltese Falcon" to hold my interest. "Dead Reckoning" was much grittier, and I think, much more true to the essence of film noir. To top it off, you get lots of colorful banter and the sultry Lizabeth Scott!
on July 20, 1999
Bogie and Lizabeth Scott give outstanding performances in this film noir classic. Murder, romance, dead bodies everywhere - you really need to stay glued to follow the clues. This film is in the same mold as "Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep". Absolutely top notch!
on May 17, 2005
If Humphrey Bogart had ever decided to film one of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer thrillers, it would have turned out something like 1947's DEAD RECKONING. Although it's not actually based on a book, John Cromwell's tautly-directed film noir owes more than a little of its plotting and characterization to earlier classic crime novels-turned-classic Bogart movies. Indeed, when my husband entered the room while the film was on, he began watching it with me and soon asked, "Is this THE BIG SLEEP, or THE MALTESE FALCON?" However, DEAD RECKONING is steeped in the kind of bitter post-war viciousness that distinguished Mickey Spillane's writing -- not that there's anything wrong with that! :-) Bogart commands the screen as Captain Rip Murdock, a former Army paratrooper (lots of colorful references to parachutes and jumping here) and one of the most misogynistic good guys he ever played (not that you can blame Rip, after the wringer he's put through in this film). Captain Rip starts out trying to find out why his Sergeant and pal Johnny Drake (William Prince) has a Yale pin with the name "John Joseph Preston" on it, and more importantly, why Johnny bolts rather than accept his Congressional Medal of Honor for his wartime heroism. Rip's investigation leads him to Gulf City, Tropical Paradise of the South (don't take my word for it, check out the neon sign in the upper right-hand corner of the screen in the opening establishing shot :-), where he's quickly sucked into a whirlpool of secrets, double-crossing, murder, and such inventive mayhem as tossing Molotov cocktails at sinister smoothie Morris Carnovsky and his psycho henchman Marvin (THE MILLIONAIRE) Miller to make them talk. Standing in for quintessential Bogart leading lady Lauren Bacall is Lizabeth Scott as mysterious chanteuse Coral Chandler, the kind of dame guys go gaga for against their better judgment (she's got so many pet names from her various beaux that the first time I saw the film, I wasn't quite sure if her name was "Coral," "Dusty," or, of all things, "Mike"!). While Scott's no Bacall (sorry, Scott fans, but to my ears, her husky voice always sounds more phlegmy than sultry. Every time Scott speaks, I half-expect someone to offer her a cough drop!), she's certainly chock full of luminous blonde beauty, plus Scott has an air of wounded vulnerability that makes me empathize with her in spite of myself. Sometimes the film is gloriously, deliriously nutzoid -- for instance, Bogart's speech to Scott early on about how men should be able to reduce women to pocket-size when necessary, and Scott's interpretation of this theory, must be heard to be believed -- but when DEAD RECKONING works, it's dynamite (literally, when Bogart and Scott join forces with safecracker/explosives expert Wallace Ford)! Even when things get ugly, this movie is always gorgeous to look at, thanks to the stunning use of shadows and light in Leo Tover's black-and-white photography. If you love Bogart and you like your film noir grim yet glamorous and over-the-top at times, DEAD RECKONING is well worth a rental or checking out the bargain bins.
on August 23, 1999
Bogart at his best. Edge-of-your-seat script. Superbly written and directed with frequent subtle humor, the likes of "Casablanca."
on January 17, 2011
Not a few Lizabeth Scott-bashers lurk here in Review Land, and that had a definite effect on my expectations before I watched this movie...I wanted to see Bogart's performance, but overall I truly expected a dusty, mediocre film with a really awful performance by this dame who has been repeatedly (and repeatedly, and repeatedly) put down as a Bacall wannabe. Honest, I was all set not to like it, and then move on. Well, guys,gotta tell you: it kept my interest all the way through, even with some unevenness in the plot--some things seemed to fall into place a little too easily for our hero--but then they only had 100 minutes to tell a story. You still want to see what happens, and that's exactly what a movie is supposed to do. Bogie here is still Bogie---any similarities to his other noir roles is a plus, rather than a minus. He fills the bill. And Miss Scott: sounds to this reviewer that most of the naysayers were just peeved that she WASN'T Lauren Bacall. I like Mrs. Bogart as much as the next guy, but give Scott a break ---she does a very credible job here, (in spite of looking unnaturally beautiful after a serious car crash...but that's not her fault)and she possesses all the necessary femme fatale qualities: attitude, mystery,slinkiness,throaty voice,and great hair framing her dangerous angel face. Here, early in her career, she is no less effective in her role than Lauren Bacall was, at the start of her career a few years before. Yes, she is a convincing dark lady, and this is an entertaining story. It has all the classic elements and deserves at least one viewing by anyone who likes noir. Not all films can be at the top of the heap, but a lot of good ones are solidly in the middle and it'd be a shame to miss them. I'm going to see this again, and very possibly will buy it-----