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Forgotten Noir Fridays: Treasure of Monte Cristo (1949)

Edmund Dantes (Glenn Langan) has no sooner stepped off a boat (on which he’s employed as a second mate) docked along San Francisco’s waterfront when he must come to the rescue of a woman being attacked by a pair of goon-like gentlemen.  The female in question is Jean Turner (Adele Jergens), an heiress who’s currently receiving mail at a sanitarium (or “nuthouse,” as Dantes colorfully refers to it) because her guardian has placed her there to keep her from receiving the substantial fortune left to her by her father.  Jean cashes in when she’s either married or reaches the age of twenty-five; she mentions to Edmund that she’s nearly there, age-wise (yes, I knew Jergens was in her early thirties when this Film was produced), but if the two of them were to tie the knot she could defeat her custodian’s eevill scheme.  (It would be a temporary business arrangement.  A three-month merger.)

Glenn Langan, Robert (Bobby) Jordan
So they’re off to “The Biggest Little City in the World” (Reno), and the morning after, Jean is having second thoughts.  When Ed ventures out to get her some cigarettes, he discovers upon his return that she’s vanished…but the address of the sanitarium has been scrawled on the mirror in lipstick.  (If Jean was abducted…wouldn’t the people putting the snatch on her notice something like this?)  Arriving at Casa del Cuckoo, Dantes hides in an upstairs room in the asylum when a man enters…and is shot by an unseen assailant.  This makes Ed The Amazing Colossal Patsy (actor Langan is known for his starring role in the 1957 cult sci-fi film The Amazing Colossal Man), as he’s arrested, tried, and sentenced for the murder of a man he’s never even met!  (Worst.  Honeymoon.  Ever.)

Adele Jergens
Despite its clunky title, which would be more fitting for a swashbuckling epic, Treasure of Monte Cristo (1949) is a decent noir whose only deficits are flabby pacing (I was kind of disappointed in director William Berke, who can usually make these little programmers hum) and uneven performances.  Far be it from me to want to deny actor Glenn Langan a career in show business…but the guy is in dire need of a charisma transplant (I know, he did quite a few biggies at Fox, like Forever Amber [1947] and The Snake Pit[1948]); a better leading man would have improved this picture enormously, and I’m only saying this because I have a thing for Adele Jergens.  (Adele and Glenn have zero chemistry.  Zip.  Nada.)

Margia, Margia, Margia! (Dean, that is.)

“If you love or live in San Francisco, this movie's like a time machine back to 1949,” observes Stuart Galbraith IV in his review at DVD Talk…and I think that’s another deficit in Treasure—it’s more of a travelogue at times than movie thriller.  (A narrator at the beginning even regales us with some Frisco stats before the story gets underway.)  Shooting on location is always nice in a film, but it shouldn’t overshadow the plot…which is conventional to the point of cliché from the get-go.  (There’s even a scene with a paralyzed victim who must communicate by moving his eyeballs.)  I wasn’t quite as taken with the suspense as Galbraith; truth be told, I had a little trouble staying awake at several points in the film.  (You could argue that the suspense is generated by “will he be able to keep from nodding off?”)

Steve Brodie
Dead End Kids/East Side Kids/Bowery Boys fans will be amused at the presence of Bobby Jordan (billed here as Robert), portraying the friend who helps Langan crash out on his way to San Quentin—I’ve seen Jordan in a couple of Tales of Wells Fargo episodes of late, and can’t help but be a little wistful at how his adult life turned out (I think Leo Gorcey once remarked that his friend “didn’t have a guardian angel”).  Familiar movie heavy Steve Brodie plays the bad guy (pro-tip: never hired an attorney sporting a pencil-thin moustache) and member-of-the-TDOY-faithful b piper will be overjoyed to see Lippert “good luck charm” Sid Melton (billed as Sidney) as a henchman (thankfully, he keeps the shtick to a bare minimum).

Heeeeeeeeeeere's Sidney!

There’s a DVD disclaimer at the beginning of this film that reads: “The original nitrate negative to this picture had decomposed, but fortunately a master positive survived.  Even after restoration the sound track is not perfect.  We hope this imperfection will not affect your enjoyment of this rare film.”  It did not (though the part about the sound concerned me to where I waited until the cleaning ladies finished vacuuming), and it just reinforces what has become a mantra here on the blog: film preservation is most important, because nitrate won’t wait.  You can purchase a copy of Treasure of Monte Cristo on the Forgotten Noir & Crime Collector’s Set Vol. 4, available at The Sprocket Vault.

This post first appeared on Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear, please read the originial post: here

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Forgotten Noir Fridays: Treasure of Monte Cristo (1949)


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