Inner Sanctum (1948)

Article #1149 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-7-2004
Posting Date: 10-4-2004
Directed by Lew Landers
Featuring Charles Russell, Mary Beth Hughes, Dale Belding

A man kills his fiance and disposes of her body by leaving it on the rear end of a train, an action that is seen by a young boy. He then finds himself trapped in the small town where he committed the murder due to flooding, and finds himself staying at the boy’s home.

Despite the title, this movie is not part of Universal’s Inner Sanctum series even if Fritz Lieber’s head resembles that floating head in the crystal ball that usually opened those films. This oddball, almost comic film noir stands on its own. Actually, I’ve never seen a noir quite like this; you know that the murderer is fated to be caught, but fate seems to have decreed here that he must deal with a bewildering array of somewhat comic characters in the process. There’s the boy who is afraid to say what he knows, not so much because he’s afraid of being murdered by the killer, but because he’s afraid of being walloped by his mom. There’s the doting mother herself, a cheerful and talky newspaper editor, and two eccentric old men, one of whom goes down to the flood waters and lays claim to a hoard of beer that he found in the water. The movie has some great lines and tense moments as well, but it’s the comic undertone that really makes this one rather unique. The fantastic aspect of the movie is found in the framing device in the character of the aforementioned Lieber, an oddly prescient character who is telling this story to a woman on a train.

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