Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 15/09/2022

THE SCARLET HOUR (1956)

While conducting their clandestine affair, Paulie (Carol Ohmart) and Marsh (Tom Tryon) overhear plans for a jewel robbery while the owners are on holiday. Seeing this as a way out of her marriage, Paulie convinces Marsh to hijack the robbers and take the valuable loot. Unfortunately, Paulie’s husband (James Gregory) also happens to be Marsh’s boss and he has found out about their affair. This fun noir-ish thriller was directed with zest by the legendary Michael Curtiz, most famous for Casablanca, but who also helmed the classic early two-strip colour horror pictures Doctor X and Mystery of the Wax Museum. While the plotting is a little messy, it’s always watchable and boasts a bonus of Nat ‘King’ Cole performing a song at the mid-point. The film also marks the first screen appearance of Broadway star Elaine Stritch (best known in the UK for the ‘70s sitcom Two’s Company, where she played opposite the stuff Donald Sinden). Ohmart - also making her screen debut - is electrifying as the infatuated lover who has grown tired of her wealthy husband but not of the comforts. Her jealousy of the young secretary Jody Lawrance burns from the screen, but Tyron is a little too wet to be a convincing leading man. Curtiz builds some palpable tension in scenes in which Tyron may be caught out by the law (led by the brilliant E.G. Marshall), and these moments alone make the film unmissable. While the Imprint Blu-ray is light on bonus features (with just a commentary and the trailer available), the film is interesting enough for fans of obscure Hollywood thrillers.   The Scarlet Hour is available on Blu-ray from Imprint in Australia.