24 April 2014

Don't Come Back Alive (1955)
26 min.
Airdate: October 23, 1955
Directed by Robert Stevenson.
With Sidney Blackmer, Virginia Gregg, Robert Emhardt, and Irene Tedrow.
Jose Cruz
Financial woes are piling up for the Partridges, and even with Frank (Blackmer) getting a new job, it looks as if the odds are against them.

But hey, what about those life insurance policies that the couple took out?

That’s what plants the idea in Frank’s mind: he convinces his wife Mildred (Gregg) to disappear for seven years. This way she can be legally declared dead and the two can gain the money from the policy.

Though Mildred is wary at first, the gears are set in motion and arrangements are made for her to live out of town. Everything goes smoothly, even with an investigation taking place to solve the “disappearance” of Frank’s wife. But when insurance investigator Mr. Kettle (Emhardt) begins to snoop around under the belief that Frank killed Mildred, things begin to turn sour.

With Mildred in despair at being isolated from her husband and Kettle breathing harder and harder down his neck, Frank attempts to simply make it to the seven year mark unscathed. But just how long will it be before someone’s blood is shed?

This solid entry is enhanced only further by the great character dynamics that are at work in the story. Everyone operates in shades of gray (not unlike many film noir movies), with the audience neither totally cheering on nor despising any of the characters. It’s certainly not hard to sympathize with the Partridges’ plight in the beginning; who hasn’t felt the pinch in the pocket that might have led to great sacrifices?

Emhardt is wonderfully grating as Mr. Kettle, his smug grins and assured attitude rocking against Blackmer’s indignation perfectly. Their constant banter serves as the perfect crux for the kicker ending that’s sure to leave a tart aftertaste in the viewer’s mouth.

A full-bodied crime tale that's sure to please.

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