Noir Obscurities

film 3 of 5

Split Second

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 8, 2015

B-movies! Efficient as can be, but full of resonance, even decency. You can’t just dismiss the Hollywood studios, part infinity.

Split Second casts echoes, or seems familiar. It’s reminiscent of John Huston’s Key Largo (after Maxwell Anderson), or William Wyler’s subsequent The Desperate Hours, and maybe even Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. If it’s true that here there be clichés, then the familiarity also allows everyone involved to skip the exposition and get right to the particulars of framing and vocal inflection and general filmmaking. In other words genres are related to work, and to the working people who do it.

Genres are also related to myths, and in theatrical and film settings the directors and actors clothe that myth in actual, recognizable human behaviour and motivation. The reporter/dance hall girl relationship has a Hawks-ian feel. They are adults, and they are responsible and honourable adults. As a result there’s no deception or equivocation or nonsense in their developing relationship. They know, and they are, and there is real substance, real feeling in the fact. Is that vague enough for you? So much more, so much deeper than the believers’ caricatures of worldly relationships.

And so it goes. The obligatory psychotic isn’t quite, or just what we might have thought he was. The floozy is contemptible, but repeatedly human. Her husband!  In other words, things are bad, and people are lacking, but we can pull through.

The conclusion to this film is really just astounding. Utterly so. Did we just see what we just saw? Unbelievable!