Sunday, May 01, 2011

Hangover Square (1945)

What do you know? I finally had time to watch a movie! I've had this one from Netflix most of April, while my life has simply been too busy to find time to watch it or anything else. And what an enjoyable film this was too.

Laird Cregar plays the lead, George Harvey Bone, a brilliant, but schizophrenic composer, who gets siderailed by Linda Darnell, playing a sexy greedy manipulative songstress, who uses anybody she can to get ahead in the world (and then dumps them when someone mores useful comes along.

Faye Marlowe plays a beautiful pianist in love with Bone, though he can't seem to see how much she cares for him. And George Sanders puts in a turn as a good guy, a doctor Bone consults about his mysterious lapses in memories.

His mysterious lapses are episodes triggered by discordant loud noises. And once he trips over, he goes violent and murderous. When he finally snaps out of it, he can't remember what happened. A shopkeeper is murdered in the opening frames (very creepily, close angles, camera in POV of murderer), and Bone fears he may be guilty during one of his lapses. He goes to Scotland Yard, to George Sanders, for help, to find out if he's guilty and what he can do to prevent the lapses. Bone is a soft-spoken good guy who means well. He loves his music more than anything else, and his lapses in memory truly bother him. Laird Cregar always dominates a scene, and he is superb here, at turns gentle and quiet, letting himself be bullied around by Linda Darnell, who wants him to give up his concerto to write songs for her to sing (and advance her career), and then scary and ominous when he gets triggered. His life was so short, and it's such a shame. He was such a charismatic actor.

The movie features one of the most memorable ways to dispose of a body ever (I admit, I grinned in writerly delight at the cleverly beauty of it), and a spectacular finish. The running time of this film is only an hour and seventeen minutes, but it uses all those minutes well and, while Sanders is very under-utilized, the rest of it moves nicely in that short time frame.

The memorable score, including Bone's Concerto, is by Bernard Hermann.


  1. What fun that we both saw this film in the last few days!

    It occurred to me after the movie ended that the way the body was disposed of was extra creepy given how Darnell died in real life...

    Best wishes,

  2. Whoa. Laird Cregar as a full-on good guy? I might need to try to dig this up. I only know him from Black Swan and This Gun for Hire, and yeah... not such a good guy in either of those...

    1. Um, no. Well, he's protagonist, and he means well and he's a good guy, until he gets triggered and flips out, so not a full-on good guy, but a good guy who's messed up? George Sanders is the real good guy in this film.

    2. Ah, okay, that sounds more like the Laird Cregar I know.

      Last time I watched This Gun for Hire, I had the crazy-but-fun thought that he would have made a great Nero Wolfe. And Alan Ladd would have been a delightful Archie Goodwin. And so I read a whole Nero Wolfe mystery just to see if they would work, and they did, and I was so pleased by that. (There's no point to this comment except that I'm tired.)