Quicksand (1950)

Director:

Irving Pichel

Cinematography by

Lionel Lindon
After borrowing $20 from his employer’s cash register, an auto mechanic is plunged into a series of increasingly disastrous circumstances which rapidly spiral out of his control.
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Wow, was I surprised

29 October 2004 | by jshaffer-1 (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a movie you can’t leave alone. At no point did I lose interest in it, and I have never been a Mickey Rooney fan, so I wasn’t expecting that much, but wow, was I surprised. This is a great story, very logical in the way it develops, and I cannot fault Mickey at all. He was great, very believable and gripping. I guess that’s the word, this movie grips you. For once I really cared what was going to happen to someone in a movie. About half way through the meaning of the title flashed in my mind. Quicksand, that’s what he was in, all right. And the more he struggled, the more he sank. It took an abrupt plot twist to get out of all this, but I can’t complain, it held my interest to the last.

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Never trust a blond dame or a guy named Buzz

8/10
Author: Tom Willett (yonhope) from Central Midwest, USA
11 August 2005

Hi, Everyone, Drama hogs… that’s an anagram for Peter Lorre’s character name in this excellent old movie. Peter plays the part of Nick Dramoshag.

Lots of drama from all the cast. Best bad guys here are the car dealer, Oren Mackey, played by Art Smith, and the landlady, played by Minerva Urecal. They are so rotten, but they are not in any trouble with the law.

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If you are a fan of the classic cars of the 40s and 50s, there are some delightful motor carriages awaiting you in this movie. Mickey works at a garage which apparently is a dealership also. There is a line of Studebaker pickup trucks parked just behind Mickey’s old jalopy when we first see his car. I believe his car is a ’31 Chevy. In front of his car is a Studebaker Starlight Coupe’ from about 1949.

Mickey makes one mistake in this movie. He loans $20 to a guy named Buzz who is a future Mousketeer (Jimmie Dodd). Dodd is in no rush to pay it back. Naturally Mickey has to steal some money to take the new dish out on a date. $20 for a date seems a little high when the lunch costs 40 cents. A brand new car is $3000 list price. It looks like a 1949 Mercury. I think they actually were only about $1800. Why does the Studebaker dealer sell Mercurys? It could happen.

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The lunch is only 40 cents because you have to look at Jack Elam with his hair slicked down while you are eating. Jack has only one line here, but you can tell he will someday make it big when he is allowed to be less beautiful.

Mickey is very agile in this. He was about 30 when he made this film, but his character is only 26. Mickey does his own slide down a fire escape and he runs around with great speed and agility under the Santa Monica Pier. I remember him dancing in many movies and he was obviously in great physical condition.

Peter Lorre is so good just looking at someone. He had the voice of a guy who enjoyed raising bats.

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Peter was very good in Casablanca.

Mickey Rooney was excellent in Bridges at Toko Ri. I bet you’ve never seen that. He of course was superb in Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The car that drives off with Mick at the end of the movie is a Packard. It is probably also a 1949 model. Packard was an expensive automobile. It was a competitor with Cadillac.

It is also fun to watch this now, especially with a teen ager, so you can see what life was like before credit cards.

Tom Willett

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An auto mechanic slips deeper and deeper into the ‘quicksand’ of crime.

10/10
Author: bux from Tecumseh ok
20 October 1998

A great little hunk of film noir. Rooney is sympathetic, albeit immoral as the mechanic that steals $20 and slips deeper into despair as the tale moves on. Peter Lorre is despicable as the man you love to hate, the one who drives Rooney deeper into crime. This one was made after the war, as Rooney attempted to regain his box offce appeal in adult roles. A nifty flick,

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Always liked narrated films best

7/10
Author: bobbobwhite from san ramon ca
22 September 2005

Good crime noir story with a highly energetic(what’s new?) Mickey Rooney in the lead role. He also narrated the film and tied together well all loose ends. Great Santa Monica Pier chase scene at the end with a well conditioned Rooney doing all his own stunts. Top camera-work in B&W, with all the light and shadows of great noir. Peter Lorre was his terrific evil, slimy self in a small role, and Jimmy Cagney’s sister Jeanne was stiffly effective as Rooney’s self-centered girlfriend.

Not a wasted second in the action, and it moves along at breakneck speed as Rooney plays this 40s-50’s typical noir morality tale of how criminals typically go from the first petty crime all the way to the worst crimes and finally end up in prison, but always have nice girls waiting for them when they get out.

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Interesting to note that almost all his crimes were witnessed, and had the cops on him almost before he finished committing them. Not quite the case in the real world as “nobody sees anything” today and most crimes go unsolved. Don’t you wish all crimes were so easily solved as in this film? It would be a very different world than the one we have.

Rooney does melodrama

6/10
Author: djensen1 from northern Indiana
28 May 2005

Wow. Mickey Rooney and Peter Lorre. Together. And with Jimmie from the Mickey Mouse Club *and* Jack Elam! I didn’t know what to expect. In case you were wondering, Rooney proves he can act in the opening scenes. He’s a car mechanic looking to get in good with the new waitress at the diner, but he’s flat broke until tomorrow. “Danny” starts down a slippery slope by copping a few bucks from the till at work, then lets Vera (Jeanne Cagney) steer him wrong by way of a game arcade owned by her former employer, Nick (Lorre). Nick makes the creepiest possible arcade owner, and Vera pines darkly for a mink coat in a store window. These are not good people to fall in with.

While the film starts out pretty cleverly, the coincidences start to pile up fast and furious. Danny’s little white theft festers into a mugging, grand theft auto, a burglary, and worse. The wrong people keep finding out too much about Danny’s activities, and soon the cops are crawling all over him.

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The acting is quite good, and the direction and pacing are clean. But the wild improbabilities that have piled up threaten to topple the whole house of cards, from the convenient witnesses to the convenient cops to the convenient car trouble. Remember: Danny is an auto mechanic. He can’t keep his own car in running condition? Still, it’s a treat to see Rooney in such desperate straits. For those looking for Raymond Chandler, tho, this isn’t noir; it’s still just melodrama.

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