Fly-By-Night (1942)

Article #832 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-25-2003
Posting Date: 11-22-2003
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Featuring Richard Carlson, Nancy Kelly, Albert Basserman

A doctor is kidnapped by an escapee from a sanitarium, and later finds himself accused of murder when the escapee is killed with one of his scalpels.

Title check: It’s an okay title for a movie about a man on the run from the police.

Once the murder is committed and the doctor is about to be arrested, he tries to prove his innocence by threatening the police with a gun, breaking and entering the apartment of a woman artist able to sketch his appearance, kidnaps her and takes her car, purposefully wrecks it while stealing a car from one of those big trucks that haul new cars around (the driver of the truck doesn’t notice a thing), and in general acts in such a way that even if he was innocent of the murder, he’d still have to face a hefty prison sentence for all of his infractions. This is all supposed to prove to me his sincere desperation to prove his innocence; unfortunately, it tends to convince me of his shortness of gray matter or that he caught whatever illness the sanitarium escapee had. Perhaps it’s just as well that the movie turns from a Hitchcockian thriller to a comedy at this point; it goes a long way towards excusing some of the bizarre situations in which he finds himself. It’s all pretty far-fetched and ridiculous, but it’s funny enough to have kept my attention in its own nutty way, though my mind came to a dead halt for about ten minutes when someone uses the phrase “patriotic panties” (I am not making this up). The opening has a strong horror feel, and there is a science-fictional touch to some of the final revelations, so that is why the movie belongs at least marginally to the fantastic genres.


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