Ross Stewart
Created by Malvin Wald

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest this ain't.

In the 1948 B-flick Behind Closed Doors, there's no real attempt to "get it right" or any attempt at all to "expose" the mental health care system. In 1948, it was enough to use asylums as the perfect setting for cheap thrills and all sorts of all sorts of dark, unsettling images and situations. Facts be damned -- just lay on some psychoanytical blather and set loose the nutjobs.

Glib fledgling private eye ROSS STEWART, is convinced by his very first client, an attractive female reporter to pose as a mental patient -- all the better to infiltrate La Siesta Sanitarium where she suspects a crooked judge is hiding out from the law. Posing as a manic-depressive, Stewart is quickly admitted as a patient, and things go awry almost as quickly, when his true identity is discovered. Mind you, at only 62 minutes in lenth, everything in this film happens quickly.

Along the way, somehow they manage to squeeze in some banter between the mouthy reporter and the wolf-on-the-make P.I. who are, of course, slowly falling in love, and some simplistic but effective characters that help build up the suspense: a sociopathic intern, a pyromaniac and a deranged ex-boxer in solitary confinement who can be turned into a homicidal beast simply by ringing a bell.

Stylistically it's a real mash-up, moving easily from pretty standard detective fare to almost-horror, thanks to some deft cinematographyand some satisfyingly noirish moments from Guy Roe, as well as some surprisingly effective acting from the cast, despite the clunky plot.

So, sure, it's improbable as hell and full of dopey characters, but for all that, this fast-paced little fart of a movie is stylishly shot and good, cheesy fun.

FILM

  • BEHIND CLOSED DOORS... Buy on DVD
    (1948,
    Aro Productions/Eagle-Lion Films)
    Screenplay by Eugene Ling and Malvin Wald
    Based on a story by Malvin Wald

    Directed by Budd Boetticher
    Cinematographer by Guy Roe
    Producer: Eugene Ling
    Starring Richard Carlson as ROSS STEWART
    and Lucille Bremer as Kathy Lawrence
    Also starring Douglas Fowley, Ralf Harlode, Thomas Browne Henry, Herbert Heyes, Gwen Donovan, Tor Johnson

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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