A killer trapped in a small town!
Today I will be reviewing a low budget noir thriller from 1948. Inner Sanctum starts with an elderly man who seems to have a prescient ability. He can tell time without a watch and seems to anticipate things before they happen.
A note for film history fans, the elderly Doctor on the right, relating the story, is Fritz Leiber Sr., Shakespearean, silent film lead, character actor and father of science fiction author Fritz Leiber, Jr. This is one of his last films before his death in 1949.
The film fades to a different scene as he relates a story that starts the main plot. A man struggles with a woman and she is stabbed in the melee. He seems to get away with it at first. But things quickly downhill for him, a young boy sees him disposing of the body. Mistaking the body for a package, the kid proceeds to grill him about it.
Hey mister! Whatcha doin?
After he escapes from the nosy kid, Dunlap hitches a ride, only to find out the exits out of the area are washed out, he is stuck in town. Things go from bad to worse when the room he rents happens to be in the same boarding house the nosy kid lives in.
The rest of the film shows has Dunlap trying to avoid suspicion and get out of town before someone figures out what happened to the girl.
Things are also complicated by the beautiful blond in the next room who takes an interest in Dunlap.
Playing with fire!
This is definitely one quirky little film. Veering between high tension mystery and small town comedy, often at once. This film also has a completely unexpected ending straight out of the twilight zone.
Most of the characters are your typical Mayberry-ish small town folks. The bumbling newspaper editor, the overbearing land lady, the annoyingly persistent kid and the town drunk all make their requisite appearances.
The acting and cinematography are competent but nothing exceptional. At a standard 1 hour B-movie length, the film moves along at a pretty good clip. While on a tiny budget, the film cast and crew manage to avoid most of the pit-falls that usually plague budget productions. Production and acting wise, this film is a sort of 1940s equivalent of a modern TV movie.
Verdict: 2.5 Gavels out of 5
Decent low budget B picture, competently produced and acted. There are a few issues with the plot but not enough to derail the film. Since it is out of copyright you can view it on youtube, IMDB or the internet archive. Worth your time if you’re a fan of film noir and black and white era B pictures.