Outside The Wall (1950)

Outside The Wall (1950) is an ex-con sap in the city thriller from the height of the classic film noir era, starring Richard Basehart as an innocent abroad, released from prison never having seen a woman, and at large and trying to remain crime-free in Philly.

However this is film noir and fate comes a-calling as do three women at once for hapless sap in a cap Richard Basehart as he negotiates his way into peril and romance.

Outside The Wall (1950) performs as a fairly standard film noir with its story of a man going straight being dragged by the heels back into the world of crime.

However there is something fantastical about the story as well, which offers a darkened fairy tale aspect contained within the innocent-abroad-style adventures of Richard Basehart's character, Larry Nelson.

Having been in prison since the age of 14 and now a grown up man-child of 29 years old, and he has crucially never so much as spoken to a woman, and so there is much to be made of this young man's ingenue status as he hits the City of Brotherly Love, looking for some gainful employment and honest ways to proceed with his honest life.

The sap in the city schtick with Richard Basehart in Outside The Wall (1950)

Out in the city he is first gulled by a lady in a bar, and then in the job market he finds of course that life is hard on the outside, harder than behind bars in some cases.

Plus in this city and beyond it, to prove the movie's pure pedigree, he encounters some pretty smart and pulpy dialogue such as

“You’re being born all over again kid, except this time you’re a man.”

“Where you been all your life?”

“I just found out what money can buy.” 

and “I always was a sucker for a dame.” 

Violence in the diner in Outside The Wall (1950)

Finding himself this ingenue among woman, Richard Basehart's character is of course surrounded by them — the best that Hollywood has to offer in Dorothy Hart — the good and honest nurse who only wants what is best for everybody — Marilyn Maxwell — the venal nurse who is interested in money and explains to the young man that money is what it takes to win her — and Signe Hasso, the scheming wife of a wounded gangster who will stop at nothing to scheme her way also to riches.

Although it seems to be Marilyn Maxwell that appears to be working the hardest, and she is surely the nurse to be the most afeared of, Richard Basehart's innocent heel — Richard Basehart's super-sap does not even value money at all and remains comically bemused at the sight of platinum which is just any old metal to him.

The sap in the sticks schtick with Richard Basehart in Outside The Wall (1950)

Outside the Wall (1950) is often categorized as a film noir due to the presence of several elements commonly associated with the genre. While opinions on the classification of films can vary, here are some elements that contribute to the film's classification as a film noir:

Film noir is characterized by its dark and moody atmosphere, often achieved through the use of shadowy cinematography and chiaroscuro lighting. "Outside the Wall" employs visual elements that contribute to a noir aesthetic, creating an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty.

Film noir typically revolves around crime and the criminal underworld. In Outside the Wall, the narrative centres on a group of inmates planning a prison break. The film explores themes of desperation, betrayal, and the consequences of criminal behaviour.

 Film noir often features an antihero or a morally ambiguous protagonist. In this film, the character of Larry Nelson, played by Richard Basehart, is a convict with a troubled past. His journey and choices are central to the narrative, and his character embodies the complexities often associated with noir protagonists.

Marilyn Maxwell in Outside The Wall (1950)

Outside the Wall (1950) takes place somewhere between crime drama and full-blooded film noir, providing a nuanced exploration of life after incarceration. 

While Larry Nelson's reintegration into society lacks the typical noir tumult, the film captivates with its character dynamics and glimpses into post-prison existence.

John Hoyt  in Outside The Wall (1950)

Unlike Steve Cochran's character in another ex-con classic Tomorrow is Another Day (1951), Nelson faces freedom with remarkable ease, free from the crushing insecurities and self-doubt that define the noir antihero. The Eastern State Penitentiary serves as a stark contrast to the typical noir prison, focusing on rehabilitation rather than cruelty. Nelson is carefully educated and trained, a beneficiary of a system that supports him.

Richard Basehart and Dorothy Hart in Outside The Wall (1950)

The film diverges from the noir norm as Nelson encounters everyday folks who extend helping hands instead of suspicion or exploitation. The warden secures him a job, a uniformed cop aids his navigation, and his boss at the diner appreciates his hard work without seeking a kickback. Even a brief encounter with a barfly attempting to lift his wallet is deftly handled.

Larry Nelson, played by the seemingly bland Richard Basehart, stands at the film's center. While Basehart may lack the traditional Hollywood charisma, his portrayal of Nelson in "Outside the Wall" is noteworthy among his noir roles. Marilyn Maxwell adds flair to the narrative with her performance as a bad girl, while Harry Morgan crafts a grotesque villain, though underutilized.

While Basehart may not have achieved A-list stardom, his career, reminiscent of Kent Smith's, offers a steady presence in notable films. Despite his perceived lack of star charisma, Basehart's contributions to the noir genre and beyond remain commendable, underscoring the complexity of Hollywood success.

Outside the Wall may not fully embrace the conventions of film noir, yet its exploration of post-prison life, coupled with compelling character dynamics, makes it a worthwhile entry in the crime film genre.

Signe Hasso in Outside The Wall (1950)

Succinctly put, a paroled convict's infatuation with a gold-digger nurse working at a sanatorium leads him to crime. The use of flashbacks and a nonlinear narrative structure is a common noir device. "Outside the Wall" employs flashbacks to reveal the backstory of the characters and to provide insights into their motivations and relationships.

It's also something of a so many wimmin — his head must be spinnin noir — with its three female leads for Richard Basehart's sap with a heart of gold — and in a cap — character must flirt and contend with.

Signe Hasso in Outside The Wall (1950)

While not always a strict requirement, film noir frequently includes a femme fatale—a seductive and often duplicitous woman who entangles the protagonist in a dangerous situation. In "Outside the Wall," Marilyn Maxwell's character, Judy, exhibits some traits of the femme fatale, contributing to the noir dynamic.

Film noir often takes place in urban settings with a sense of urban decay. Outside The Wall is set in and around a prison, and while not a typical cityscape, the enclosed and oppressive atmosphere of the prison aligns with the urban grit often associated with noir.

Richard Basehart had a successful and varied career as an actor. He was known for his versatility, appearing in a wide range of roles across film, television, and stage. Here are some key aspects of Richard Basehart's successful career:

Basehart appeared in numerous films, spanning different genres. Notable films from his early career include He Walked by Night (1948), a film noir, and Moby Dick (1956), in which he played the role of Ishmael.

Richard Basehart achieved widespread recognition for his role as Admiral Harriman Nelson in the science fiction television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," which ran from 1964 to 1968. His performance in the series contributed to its popularity.

Basehart received critical acclaim for his work, earning several award nominations and wins. Notably, he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series for his role in "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."

In addition to his work in film and television, Basehart was an accomplished stage actor. He performed in various theatrical productions, showcasing his talents in live performances.

Harry Morgan gives Richard Basehart the treatment in Outside The Wall (1950)

Basehart continued his acting career into the later decades of his life. He appeared in television shows, TV movies, and films, maintaining a steady presence in the entertainment industry.

Throughout his career, Richard Basehart was respected for his acting skills and his ability to take on diverse roles. His work in both dramatic and genre pieces demonstrated his range and adaptability.

While he may not have achieved the same level of mainstream recognition as some Hollywood stars, Basehart's contributions to the entertainment industry were substantial. His success in various mediums, including film, television, and stage, reflects his talent and enduring appeal. Richard Basehart passed away in 1984, leaving behind a legacy of work that continues to be appreciated by fans of classic cinema and television.

Signe Hasso, a Swedish-born actress, had a notable and successful career in the entertainment industry, particularly during the mid-20th century. 

Dorothy Hart in Outside The Wall (1950)

Signe Hasso made her mark in Hollywood during the 1940s, appearing in a variety of films. Some of her notable roles include performances in films like Heaven Can Wait (1943), The House on 92nd Street (1945), and A Double Life (1947), for which she received critical acclaim.

Before coming to Hollywood, Hasso had a successful career in Swedish and German cinema. Her international experience added to her versatility as an actress and contributed to her recognition on a global scale.

Hasso demonstrated her versatility by taking on roles in a range of genres, including drama, thriller, and film noir. Her ability to portray a variety of characters showcased her talent and adaptability.

In addition to her film career, Signe Hasso was involved in stage productions. She had a background in theatre, and her stage performances added to her reputation as a skilled actress.

As the entertainment landscape evolved, Hasso transitioned to television, making appearances in various shows. Her television credits include roles in popular series such as "Perry Mason" and "The Twilight Zone."

Beyond her acting career, Signe Hasso authored several books. Her writing showcased her talents beyond the screen, and she shared her experiences in the entertainment industry in her memoir "Signe Hasso: A Life in Hollywood and Beyond."

Richard Basehart threatens Marilyn Maxwell in Outside The Wall (1950)

While Signe Hasso may not have achieved the same level of fame as some of her contemporaries, she earned respect for her acting abilities and made valuable contributions to both American and international cinema. Her career spanned decades, and her work continues to be appreciated by those interested in classic films and the history of Hollywood. Signe Hasso passed away in 2002.

Outside The Wall (1950)

Release Date: 8 February 1950
Production Date: mid Sep--late Oct 1949
Claimant Date and Copyright Number: Universal Pictures Co., inc.30 March 1950LP119
Sound: Western Electric Recording
Duration (in mins):80
Length (in feet):7,204
Country: United States
PCA No: 14277

Outside The Wall (1950) at Wikipedia

No comments:

Post a Comment