Dark Mountain (September, 1944)

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Robert Lowrey and Ellen Drew in Dark Mountain
 

Released in September, 1944: A black market gangster and his wife hide out in an old cabin on Dark Mountain in this noir murder thriller.

Directed by William Berke

The Actors: Robert Lowery (Don Bradley), Ellen Drew (Kay Downey), Regis Toomey (Steve Downey), Eddie Quillan (Willie Dinsmire), Elisha Cook Jr. (Whitey), Ralph Dunn (Chief Sanford), Walter Baldwin (Uncle Sam Bates), Rose Plumer (Aunt Pattie Bates), Virginia Sale (Aletha Bates), Byron Foulger (Harvey Bates), Johnny Fisher (henchman Hunk), Alex Callam (Detective Dave Lewis), Eddie Kane (waiter), Angelo Desfis (bookkeeper), Lee Phelps (police dispatcher in the montage), Kay Garrett (waiter).

 

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In 1944 we were still at war and with much of our production geared to military needs, there were shortages of many household items. The government passed out ration stamps for everything from gasoline to sugar. Each family got just enough stamps to buy a modest amount of goods. I remember my dad telling about driving his car for many months on the tire rims, being unable to find or buy rubber tires. All of the rubber for tires was being diverted to our armed forces, and the folks at home willingly sacrificed whatever they had to in order to support the war effort. In this gangster noir thriller our bad guy is a gangster who steals stuff and then sells it on the black market to folks with cash, even if they didn't have the proper 'stamps'. Usually veteran actor Regis Toomey plays the good guy in these films, but in this one he is the gangster, and he pulls it off quite well. His wife is Ellen Drew, who plays Kay, and she has a sweetheart that is a park ranger on Dark Mountain. But gangster Steve Downey sweeps her off her feet and marries her, leaving her park ranger boyfriend in the lurch. By the time that Kay learns that her suave, rich husband is a gangster, he has already killed two people - a cop and one of his own henchmen. If Whitey, the henchman that he shoots looks familiar, he is Elisha Cook Jr. If you have seen and enjoyed The Maltese Falcon, he is the little skinny fellow that gets beat up by Bogart and gets framed for the murder of Bogart's partner. He is a perfect henchman, as he always looks guilty. Anyway, Steve and Kay are on the run from the cops, and Kay gets her old boyfriend Park Ranger Bradley to hide her in an old cabin on Dark Mountain. Bradley doesn't realize it, but Kay's gangster husband shows up and hides in the cabin, forcing Kay to keep his presence a secret.

Pop your white kernel popcorn and grab your favorite beverage, and get ready for a classic noir gangster thriller with guns blazing and our heroine stuck in the middle between her park ranger and her gangster husband as they battle each other for love and survival.