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Moorman

Quicksand (1950)

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Mickey Rooney plays Dan, a garage mechanic.  Dan wants to impress a woman he is trying to see named Vera ( Jeanne Cagney) and needs $20 to go on a date.  He decides to take the money from the garage's cash register with the intent to put it back before the books are done.  He takes the money and then comes up with a scheme to buy a $100 watch on terms. He gets the watch and pawns it.  He takes the pawn money and replaces the money in the cash register. The problem is the pawn company and the finance company caught on to what he did and intended to press charges unless he paid the watch off within 24 hours.  This sets off a chain of events that get worse for Dan.

I enjoyed the film even though the plot either was too contrived or a running gag from the director.  In EVERY instance where Dan did something wrong a third party shows up and knows exactly what he did and tells him. It became predictable to me.  Peter Lorre plays Nick, the owner of a penny arcade in the film. He even gets caught up with Dan's shenanigans. 

I learned that both Lorre and Rooney co-financed this film but were never paid by a third party.  Jeanne Cagney commented on the professionalism of Lorre and even though this was not a "A" film she stated that Lorre approached it as if it was the top "A" film of "A" films.  Many critics cite this as the best performance of Rooney's career.  He did a fantastic job going against type in this one.

I loved the musical score ( Louis Gruenberg) and the cinematography ( Lionel Lindon).  It was shot on location in Santa Monica and at the Santa Monica Pier.  Its a fabulous looking film.  I rate this one slightly above the IMDB rating of 6.6 at a solid 7 out of 10.

 

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I wrote a review about this film and posted it on the IMDb in 2014. I had first seen it on TCM and wasn't too enamored with it.

*****

QUICKSAND contains a few winning elements, but for the most part it is extremely contrived and unintentionally funny. And some of the film just doesn't make sense at all. The scene where Mickey Rooney is on top of the desk throttling the car salesman is where it is most absurd. How can you root for him? He's too stupid to garner any respect or empathy from the audience. You instead root for Jeanne Cagney's pathetic femme fatale because she at least has more intelligence. 

And what about the part where Rooney tells a brunette girl that he killed someone and she doesn't even seem bothered by it. Instead, she wants to hop in the car and go to Mexico with him. This is even more ridiculous than the murder scene. 

Peter Lorre is the only good thing in this sad attempt at a film. He plays a slimy arcade owner and seems to be a substantial part of the story in the beginning. But then, he just disappears half-way through the movie. 

The biggest problem with QUICKSAND is that they played it straight, when it should have been done for laughs. If it was a black comedy with a wink at the impossibility of the situations the main character was embroiled in, then that may have worked. But for an audience to take this plot seriously means the filmmakers were expecting too much and were not even half as smart as the cardboard characters they created.

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46 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I wrote a review about this film and posted it on the IMDb in 2014. I had first seen it on TCM and wasn't too enamored with it.

*****

QUICKSAND contains a few winning elements, but for the most part it is extremely contrived and unintentionally funny. And some of the film just doesn't make sense at all. The scene where Mickey Rooney is on top of the desk throttling the car salesman is where it is most absurd. How can you root for him? He's too stupid to garner any respect or empathy from the audience. You instead root for Jeanne Cagney's pathetic femme fatale because she at least has more intelligence. 

And what about the part where Rooney tells a brunette girl that he killed someone and she doesn't even seem bothered by it. Instead, she wants to hop in the car and go to Mexico with him. This is even more ridiculous than the murder scene. 

Peter Lorre is the only good thing in this sad attempt at a film. He plays a slimy arcade owner and seems to be a substantial part of the story in the beginning. But then, he just disappears half-way through the movie. 

The biggest problem with QUICKSAND is that they played it straight, when it should have been done for laughs. If it was a black comedy with a wink at the impossibility of the situations the main character was embroiled in, then that may have worked. But for an audience to take this plot seriously means the filmmakers were expecting too much and were not even half as smart as the cardboard characters they created.

I agree with everything you said except the rooting for Vera ( Jeanne Cagney) and the fact that I think they could have made this a better film with better writing without going into comedy. I have never seen a film soo contrived as this one.  Even the guy that they jacked for his car to take them to Mexico, figured out that the guy Dan strangled was most likely still alive.  It came across as either some of the worst writing OR a running gag.  If you take this EXACT same script and rework how Dan is found out and give Lorre more screen time and they would've had a solid winner.  The concept was brilliant but the execution was faulty.  They didn't have to figure out Dan's every move like they did and it would've still worked if done right.

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37 minutes ago, Moorman said:

I agree with everything you said except the rooting for Vera ( Jeanne Cagney) and the fact that I think they could have made this a better film with better writing without going into comedy. I have never seen a film soo contrived as this one.  Even the guy that they jacked for his car to take them to Mexico, figured out that the guy Dan strangled was most likely still alive.  It came across as either some of the worst writing OR a running gag.  If you take this EXACT same script and rework how Dan is found out and give Lorre more screen time and they would've had a solid winner.  The concept was brilliant but the execution was faulty.  They didn't have to figure out Dan's every move like they did and it would've still worked if done right.

Yeah, and the film's obviously low budget doesn't help.

Rooney did a better crime drama a few years later -- 1954's DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD, which was made at Columbia and had stronger production values.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_a_Crooked_Road

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Yeah, and the film's obviously low budget doesn't help.

Rooney did a better crime drama a few years later -- 1954's DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD, which was made at Columbia and had stronger production values.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_a_Crooked_Road

I don't mind the low budget.  Like I said, I'm fairly new to these classic movies and I know nothing about the productions until after the fact when i research them.  I know nothing of the history of these studios, thus I don't even notice the production budgets for the most part.  If the plot is good, the film looks good, then I like it.  Case in point: " The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." The film is soo great that I didn't really notice that it was filmed on a production set until it was pointed out in research I did for the film.  " Dial M for Murder".  Again, I didn't think of the fact that it was shot primarily in on one set.  The film is soo good that I didn't really notice it again until it was pointed out to me.  

I'm gonna look up the other Rooney film you pointed out and see if its a good one or not.  Thanx for that...

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36 minutes ago, Moorman said:

I don't mind the low budget.  Like I said, I'm fairly new to these classic movies and I know nothing about the productions until after the fact when i research them.  I know nothing of the history of these studios, thus I don't even notice the production budgets for the most part.  If the plot is good, the film looks good, then I like it.  Case in point: " The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." The film is soo great that I didn't really notice that it was filmed on a production set until it was pointed out in research I did for the film.  " Dial M for Murder".  Again, I didn't think of the fact that it was shot primarily in on one set.  The film is soo good that I didn't really notice it again until it was pointed out to me.  

I'm gonna look up the other Rooney film you pointed out and see if its a good one or not.  Thanx for that...

I also recommend 1954's DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD.     I read all the comments about Quicksand and they are on target.     While I don't feel I wasted my time seeing the film,   with just a little tighter direction and a few script changes,,,, well,  similar to what Bando said in the back seat of a car;   it could have been something!.

 

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Quicksand is a fun film. Yup, it's amazing just how quickly a little crime can spiral out of control and turn into a big crime. This film captured that idea very well.

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