Impact Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 26, 2014
Brian Donlevy, usually a Hollywood character actor of second tier prominence, is given a chance to shine as the lead over a familiar if minor league cast in this curious scattered hybrid of a noir film (directed by the guy who would go on to direct the entire run of the once popular Mr. Ed talking horse television series). A tale of murder first, turning to redemption in a small town next, finishing as a big city courtroom drama at the last, with none of it ever leaving the feeling of set-up for something that eventually never arrives. Standouts include Charles Coburn's Irish cop portrayal attempt, Anna May Wong and Philip Ahn being unused and Helen Walker as the bad kitty. The backdrop, America in the midst of the postwar boom, a window into history, became nearly as interesting as the story. Even small town Idaho seems to bustle.
Super Reviewer
October 10, 2012
This Film Comes from the Mill Creek 100 Mystery Classics Movie Collection. This is truly a hidden gem in Black & White from 1949. One of the best Mystery Movies I've seen new or classic. This is about a love triangle, A women plots to have her husband killed while is on a business trip, the killer is her lover, but things go wrong the killer is killed instead and the husband survives the killers attack and stumbles into a town where at first he doesn't know who he is, then remembering and reading the papers everyone thinks he's dead. Meanwhile the wife is collecting until he appears back in town to have her charged with conspiracy to commit murder, but then tables are turned and he is charged with killing her lover, will he be sent to prison, only by watching will you know. 5 stars 10-3-12
Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2010
Enjoyable crime drama with Donlevy fine in the lead but it's actually Helen Walker who makes the strongest impression as the treacherous wife.
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2009
There have been an inordinately high number of great movies set in San Francisco; alas, this is not one of them. Impact is a so-so b-movie which starts off as a film noir and finishes as a courtroom drama. Brian Donlevy plays a wealthy businessman, missing presumed dead after his wife and her lover's murder plot backfires, who hides out in small-town Idaho while the police investigation closes in on his spouse. The film works fine up until the attempt on Donlevy's life but falls rather flat thereafter, as Donlevy concentrates on becoming a pillar of an apple-pie community - cherry-pie, in this case - instead of exacting revenge on his faithless missus, which is what we'd expect him to do. Donlevy sleepwalks through the movie, but Helen Walker, as his wife, and Ella Raines, as the chirpy, tomboyish garage owner who takes pity on him, give it everything they've got.
Super Reviewer
½ April 21, 2008
"impact" is a roughly produced film noir with a fading anna may wong who plays the servent of helen walker. the ambiguity of "impact" would be its mixture of two genres, film noir crossed with a moralistic do-gooder aura.

the story is about a gullible lawyer who gets doublecrossed by his insidious spouse played by helen walker (also the evil psychiatrist who backstabs tyrone power in "nightmare alley"). the wife and her cuckold scheme to murder the lawyer in disguise of car crash upon the desolate highway...but things go astray, the cuckold dies of accident while the sap survives but suffers from temporal anmesia. then he tumbles over a small town to work as a fixer in a gas station run by a businesswoman played by ella rains. so they fall in love and he decides to report the crime instead of revenging his wife by the prosecuted murder charge from district attorney. but he gets accused by the wife for killing the cuckold so she could solicit her heritage from him....eventually the chinese servent played by anna may helps to enforce the justice.

except helen walker's mean dame, the rest of cast is lackluster. the subplot of the heart-shape embroidered shirt is sorta quirkily amusing. inadequately it tries to redeem its protagonist under a positive light of second chance, and ella rains would be the fair woman who provides the saving grace to a shattered man. who wanna see self-reform in film noir anyway? just like noir enthusiasts embrace the rot of human nature well that people enjoy witnessing robert mitchum fall into abyss twice in "out of the past"...

besides, anna may wong is obviously losing the edges she used to have in the prime 30s, underused and withered, settling for secondary roles of inferior stereotype in the background of chinatown.
Super Reviewer
½ August 18, 2010
Fairly stiff and barely qualifies as film-noir. Donlevy plays a too trusting industrialist. His wife and her lover conspire to kill him. Coburn is an odd choice to play the Lieutenant investigating the crime. Ella Raines, as Marsha Peters, the owner of an auto repair shop in the small town where Donlevy's character hides out, is somewhat unique in the strength she demonstrates, but still falls into the romantic clichés by the end.
May 2, 2013
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½ May 30, 2012
Wonderful movie superb acting and great twist at the end
½ May 15, 2012
A Longing for the World That Was

It is no coincidence that film noir as a genre came into being around the time of World War II. There is some debate as to whether this film is true noir, and it's true that it lacks some of the important elements of the genre. However, among the many things it shares are senses of weariness and cynicism. Even in the idyllic town of Larkspur, Idaho, Our Hero assumes that it's a dog-eat-dog world and that the next guy will beat you down as soon as look at you, if you give him half a chance. After all, even Larkspur was not untouched by the late war. We don't know how Our Hero spent the war--if he mentions it, I missed it--but it's implied that he feels its results yet. Not PTSD, no, but a way of looking at the world after years of war and Depression. Probably the main reason this isn't seen as a true noir is that it has an actual redemptive arc. Not everyone can be saved, but Our Hero can.

He is industrialist Walter Williams (Brian Donlevy). One day, he is going on a trip to Denver to oversee the opening of his factories there. His wife, Irene (Helen Walker), asks him if he will allow her cousin, Jim Torrence (Tony Barrett), to come along for the ride. Walter agrees, though he isn't thrilled about it. They stop at a little diner, and Jim says that, instead of going in, he will try to catch a nap. But while Walt is eating, Jim is ensuring that they will get a flat some way away, where there is nothing for miles. And when Walt goes to fix it, Jim goes after him with the tire iron. Walt falls into the ravine, and before Jim can make sure he's dead, some guys in a moving truck come along and see him. He drives off in such a hurry that he doesn't see the gas truck coming the other way. He is killed; the body is unrecognizable. But Walt is not dead, though everyone assumes the body is his. And one phone call is enough to establish that Jim wasn't his wife's cousin after all . . . .

The thing that kind of gets me is that several of the stories are accepted on face value even when they don't make any sense. Oh, not Irene's "cousin"--actually, she says he's a nephew of an aunt, but that's a cousin of a sort even when marriage is involved. Walt has no reason to doubt her. But when Walt turns up alive most of the way through the picture, I couldn't figure out why everyone assumed that the attempt on his life had nothing to do with Irene. The claim that the guy was just a hitchhiker doesn't bear even a little research, and that makes Irene a lot more suspicious than Walt. After all, what are the odds that he'd just end up in Walt's car unless Irene engineered it? Everyone thinks it looks suspicious on Walt's part, but while Walt might reasonably be assumed to be unable to recognize Jim, the odds don't much run the other way. And though the movies often seem to gloss over this fact, attempted murder is still a crime.

The movie is surprisingly open-minded toward the sorts of characters who were getting a tough time from Hollywood in those days. Irene's maid is Su Lin (Anna May Wong), a sweet and loyal girl whose concern is not the police per se but what her testimony might be interpreted as meaning to a man who was always kind to her. One of the first people Walt meets in Larkspur, and of course his eventual love interest, is Marsha Peters (Ella Raines). She is a war-widow who took over her husband's service station when he went off to war. She is even expressly stated to be competent at older cars and just not up-to-date on current automotive technology, and it's never implied that she should be ashamed of doing "man's work." Su Lin's uncle is Ah Sing (Philip Ahn), who is patronized with "You understandee English?" So he says, yes, also French, Italian, and Hebrew. And finally, Marsha's mother, who alas appears not to have a first name and merely be "Mrs. King" (Mae Marsh), has a secret and doesn't share it despite being an older woman.

Of course, it's a bit shot down in the last few minutes, but I can cope with that. At worst, I can just pretend that the movie ends a couple of minutes before it does. I understand the social dynamic, even if I don't like it. And it's nice to know that even Joe Breen seems to agree that attempted murder is legitimate grounds for divorce. Still, I can't help wondering how things will go after the excitement dies down. Marsha knew that Walt, who went by a different name while in hiding, wasn't telling everything. She knew he had secrets. However, she couldn't possibly have been prepared for what her life would be like once those secrets were revealed. Even after the various trials are over, life is going to be very different for her from what it was while she was living happily in Larkspur. I'm not sure she is given enough time to process that fact, but then, I'm not sure filmmakers always realize that life-altering decisions are best made in tranquility. At least Su Lin is happier at the end.
½ August 18, 2011
I loved this movie! Walter Williams (Donlevy) is a business man with a normal life-- until his wife, Irene (Walker) and her lover (Barrett) plot to kill him. All goes well, until the lover doesnt actually kill Walter, and he ends up dead instead. When Walter wakes up from his concussion, he finds out that he is presumed dead, even though he doesnt remember anything. Now stranded, Walter winds up in a small town called Larkspur, where he meets the love of his life (Raines). Meanwhile, an aging cop (Coburn) isnt convinced that Walters death was an accident, so Irene winds up in jail. But theres still more to come. Underrated director Arthur Lubin made this great piece of work in 1949. Despite its B- movie stars and status, this movie is really well done. First of all, the genre changes from film noir, to romantic drama, to law in only two hours, which is a really impressive thing to do. Second of all, the actors are surprisingly great-- Donlevy is a great leading man (a role he didnt get very much), Walker is a spectacular femme fatale, Coburn as usual is great in his old man role, and gorgeous Raines is just a perfect fit altogether. Lastly, the music and cinematography is excellent. The music plays non- stop, but keeps up with the pace of the film, and is played at the perfect times, and the not- too showy photographs are perfect for this film noir. But anyways, Impact is a seriously underrated movie, and if youre looking for a movie that will really impress you, watch this.
February 13, 2005
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