Edge Of Doom (1950)

Edge Of Doom (1950) is a desperate priest killer noir starring Farley Granger as a man driven to edgy paranoiac and driven madness by poverty and in his view the Catholic church.

A paranoid city streets noir of the first drainage, Edge Of Doom is a slum story set in increasingly crummier settings, pitting priests against poverty and poverty against sanity, as one man turns to blame the church for the ills of his life, and now has issues with them around the deaths of both his parents.

A brilliant noir with all the fun of the style which includes Dana Andrews as the priestly narrative glue, offering a framed Farley fable, a story of desperation from the poor side. 

On the capitalist mean streets of 1950 there is a shinola-show of trouble for the poor, and all of this is focused on Farley Granger's increasingly desperate and tragic desire to see a large funeral for his penurious maw.

A classic of the style Edge Of Doom takes place almost entirely at night and in gloom ever present and in simple but strong and well developed locales, such as the crummy stairwell of the crummy apartment block.

Farley Granger, an American actor, was known for his roles in film noir productions such as "Strangers on a Train" (1951) directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Granger was praised for his ability to convey vulnerability and depth in his performances. Several factors contributed to his success in expressing vulnerability in film noir:

Expressive Facial Expressions: Granger had a versatile face that allowed him to convey a wide range of emotions. His expressive facial expressions, including his eyes and body language, were crucial in conveying vulnerability. Film noir often relied on close-ups and subtle gestures to capture the nuances of a character's emotions, and Granger excelled in utilizing these techniques.

Nuanced Acting Style: Granger was known for his nuanced and subtle acting style. In film noir, characters often find themselves in morally ambiguous and emotionally charged situations. Granger's ability to convey complex emotions with subtlety and depth made him well-suited for these roles.

Chemistry with Co-Stars: In film noir, interpersonal relationships and chemistry between characters play a significant role. Granger's ability to establish convincing connections with his co-stars helped enhance the vulnerability of his characters. For example, in "Strangers on a Train," the dynamics between Granger's character and Robert Walker's character contribute to the emotional intensity of the film.

The city, isolation, the edge of doom in Edge of Doom (1950)

The narrative unfurls around the peregrinations of a youth named Martin Lynn (Farley Granger), whose emotional moorings drift into tumultuous seas upon the demise of his ailing matron. A maelstrom of resentment, particularly directed at the venerable Catholic Church, ensues — a disdain rooted not only in its perceived neglect when entreated for priestly solace during his mother's final throes but also in the historical recollection of its refusal to inter his father, a victim of self-inflicted tragedy.

For fantastical coincidence's in story telling Edge Of Doom edges closer to the edge than is usually safe. Two men in the same crummy boarding house commit two entirely different crimes one night and both are picked up for the other's crime. It's a sort of boarding house crime double effect, although the crimes are unrelated.

Then the odds of the witness to one fo the crimes clearly seeing the offender in action in a dramatic police line up doorway ring the doorbell and look in the window action sequence, she does not only chose the wrong man, but chooses the one that did the other crime, without even knowing about that crime.

Boarding houses of film noir - Farley Granger in Edge of Doom (1950)

Attributing the malaise of his existence to the very environs that cradle him, Martin channels his ire towards sundry targets: a parsimonious superior, a purveyor of death's services, and most tragically, a custodian of Catholic sanctity, Father Kirkman (Harold Vermilyea). The aged ecclesiastic, burdened by the toils of ministering to the destitute denizens of the locale, adopts an apathetic veneer that becomes the crucible for Martin's unbridled fury.

"Somewhere out there somebody owes you something, all you gotta do is have the nerve to collect."

In a cataclysmic crescendo, Martin, fueled by a tempest of indignation, metes out a brutal retribution, bludgeoning Father Kirkman with the weighty crucifix until life surrenders. As the fabric of ecclesiastical composure unravels, Father Roth (Dana Andrews), Kirkman's vigilant aide, discerns the ominous shadows cast upon the young man. Accused not only of the ecclesiastical slaying but ensnared in the tendrils of an unrelated transgression, Martin finds himself ensnared in the sable coils of an unfolding tragedy.

Paul Stewart

Edge Of Doom
is titled like any classic film noir ought, containing as it does the liminal in the form of Edge, and if you have got this far in noir you will definitely enjoy Edge of the City (1957). And of doom say no more, a somewhat weighty idea even for the deep paranoiacs of noir

Vertical lines serve to isolate Farley Granger’s character on the screen, and suggest oppression. But they also convey salvation. The great cathedrals and many other religious structures are traditionally designed with strong vertical lines, lifting the eye upward to the heavens. And so it is here, as the viewer sees on a subconscious level that Martin has a chance to rise from the mess of his life… and wonders if he’ll take it.

Mystery File 25th Feb 2019

Flashbacks in movies, it's like peeling back the layers of a dame's past, exposing the secrets she's been hiding in the shadows. Picture this: You're in a smoke-filled joint, the kind where the air is thick with regret and the neon lights flicker like a dame batting her eyelashes. The jukebox is playing a melancholic tune, setting the mood for the twisted tale about to unfold.

So, flashback technique, it's a narrative trick, a trip down memory lane, where the story takes a detour into the murky waters of the past. It's not like a straight-up yarn; it's more like a fractured mirror reflecting shattered fragments of the protagonist's history. You see, in film noir, everyone's got skeletons in their closet, and these flashbacks, they're the keys to those closets, unlocking the hidden chambers of guilt, betrayal, and redemption.

Imagine you're in a dimly lit room, shadows dancing on the walls like whispers of forgotten sins. The main guy, he's haunted by memories – a dame who played him for a chump, a dark alley where a gunshot echoed, or a crooked deal gone south. The director, he's the puppet master, pulling the strings of time to unveil the layers of the story, revealing the wounds that never healed.

Farley Granger and Harold Vermilyea in Edge of Doom (1950)

In this gritty world of fedoras and femme fatales, the flashback isn't just a stroll down memory lane; it's a descent into the abyss, where the past collides with the present like a couple of bruisers settling an old score. The jigsaw pieces of the narrative, scattered and chaotic, come together to form a twisted mosaic of the protagonist's journey through the mean streets.

So, when you're lost in the labyrinth of a film noir, and the smoke curls around you like the tendrils of regret, pay attention to those flashbacks. They're the breadcrumbs leading you through the labyrinth, guiding you to the heart of the mystery. Just remember, not everything is black and white in this shadowy realm – there are shades of gray lurking in those flashbacks, waiting to be exposed under the unforgiving glare of the neon lights.

"It doesn't take much to poison a young man's soul, particularly a soul full of pain and helplessness, and shame . . . yes I've always thought shame was at the bottom of poor Martin's anger, shame for his father's wrongdoing . . . but he couldn't hate his father, so he turned his hate on the church and its laws . . . we had done him  . . . and his mother . . . wrong. Not the weak man who had turned criminal and suicide. Into such a sick ear the devil needs only whisper . . . and he did."

Farley Granger and Harold Vermilyea in Edge of Doom (1950)

Edge of Doom ain't your run-of-the-mill hymn to the heavens. This flick, born from Leo Brady's pen, a Catholic with no qualms calling out the church, takes a detour from the saintly script. Sure, liberties were taken in the adaptation dance – a prologue and epilogue thrown in, a sprinkle of narration for that inspirational twirl – but don't get it twisted, this ain't your grandma's Catholic propaganda.

In a world where faith-based movies stumble like a drunk in the alley, Edge of Doom sidesteps the holy parade. Nuance, pal, that's the secret sauce missing from those preachy productions. Religion's in the mix, but it ain't hogging the spotlight. The church? More about the rules and rituals than the man upstairs. It's Martin's tale that's the real player here, weaving a narrative that's as gritty as the streets he's navigating.

Streets of film noir - Farley Granger in Edge of Doom (1950)

Diners of film noir - of film noir - Farley Granger in Edge of Doom (1950)

Paul Stewart in Edge Of Doom (1950)

Martin's ma seeks solace in the pews, dreaming of a sweet afterlife that redeems her earthly struggles. But for Martin, the church is just another letdown, another joint in a city that's dealt him a crap hand. He ain't looking for divine justifications; he's eyeing an escape from the poverty that's suffocating him.

Now, Farley Granger – sandwiched between noir heavyweights They Live by Night and Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train – he's the anchor. Sure, the inspirational jazz might feel a bit hokey, and the supporting crew might smell a tad formulaic, but Granger, a card-carrying bi guy (memoirs spilled the tea in 2007), keeps Martin's boots firmly planted in reality. This ain't just a flick from yesteryear; it's a mirror reflecting the struggle, as real now as it was when this tale first hit the streets. So, pal, if you're itching for a ride down the dark lanes of noir with a hint of rebellion, Edge of Doom's the ticket – catch it streaming on Prime while the neon lights still flicker.

Martin Lynn: [speaking to his dead mother] I couldn't get you any flowers. And there won't be any music, and there won't be any limousines. Maybe nobody'll even show up. just the two of us. That's all we ever had. It'll be enough now.

Robert Keith in Edge Of Doom (1950)

The ostentatious narrative framework, a trite concoction of flashbacks, serves as a convenient pretext for the inclusion of a lamentable voiceover, further destabilizing the film's tonal equilibrium and accentuating a latent didacticism that might have otherwise remained subdued. The film's thematic message, an exposé on the deleterious impact of poverty on those ensnared within its clutches and the valiant souls endeavoring to liberate them, is sufficiently articulated within the narrative fabric. The intrusive narrator, however, overindulges in hammering this theme, threatening to transform a subtle undercurrent into a pedantic crescendo.

This excessive reliance on voiceover narration not only erodes the film's narrative subtlety but also casts a shadow over Andrews' character. In the absence of this intrusive commentary, Father Andrews emerges as a figure of devout humility and empathetic virtue, rather than the sanctimonious, pulpit-pounding caricature that the voiceover seems perilously close to portraying. The delicate nuances of Andrews' character are at risk of being drowned out by the bombastic cadence of the narration, teetering on the brink of transforming a contemplative exploration into an overbearing sermon.

Dana Andrews in Edge Of Doom (1950)

Collaboration with skilled directors, such as Alfred Hitchcock, played a crucial role in bringing out the vulnerability in Granger's performances. Directors often guide actors in shaping their characters and emotions, and working with accomplished directors in the film noir genre helped Granger refine his craft.

Granger had a deep understanding of his characters' motivations, allowing him to portray vulnerability in a genuine and relatable manner. This understanding helped him connect with the audience on an emotional level.

Farley Granger in Edge Of Doom (1950)

The filmic trappings of noir have been indiscriminately affixed to a remarkably heterogeneous array of narratives, albeit with rare success comparable to the unyielding chiaroscuro, both visually and thematically, adroitly manifested in the cinematic opus that is "Edge of Doom." This cinematic foray leaves no room for victors, no solace in the luminous, and, most crucially, no resolution.

Paul Stewart in Edge of Doom (1950)

This magnum opus thrusts us into an unsettling panorama of postwar urbanity, proffering a feeble narrative of redemption amid destitution that rings resoundingly inauthentic. Consequently, it is rendered distasteful — bereft of the protective veneer of artifice that typically permits our safe surrender to cinematic endeavors.

We are invariably drawn to the precipitation-laden boulevards and obscured alleyways of noir, primarily due to their glistening allure — bathed in a mesmerizing interplay of light and shadow. Alas, these reflections are but vestiges of an antiquated realm, one that, if we are to be brutally candid, could only find existence within the confines of celluloid.

Our predilection for noir resides in its simultaneous embodiment of elegance and stylization, its allure steeped in sensuality and seductively violent undertones: an audacious heist of an armored car; a resourceful fugitive traversing the hinterlands; Laura's visage above the hearth; Joan Bennett, draped in a raincoat beneath a desolate streetlight, shadows enveloping her like velvet. In stark contrast, "Edge of Doom" stubbornly embraces an unyielding authenticity that shatters the delicate illusions of cinematic escapism.

Shades Of Grey, June 23rd 2022

Edge of Doom (1950)

Directed by Mark Robson

Produced by Sam Goldwyn

Cinematography by Harry Stradling

Screenplay by Philip Yordan, based on the novel by Leo Brady.

Uncredited writers: Charles Brackett and Ben Hecht

Released by RKO Pictures

Running time: 99 minutes

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