They're one kiss away from MURDER! Millionaire industrialist Walter Williams is marked for murder by his sexy young wife and her seedy lover. When the insidious plot ends in a fiery disaster, Williams is thought dead. In r... more »eality, he finds himself without a clue as to who he is or what happened. But as his memory starts to return, his shattered life becomes a runaway roller coaster ride of suspense and excitement! Beautifully photographed on location in San Francisco, this hard-boiled drama snaps with smart dialogue, a hell-frosted broad and more twists than a rusty corkscrew. "Impact" is truly a forgotten film noir masterpiece.« less
"IMPACT is marketed as "film noir," but about the only element of that genre it has in pure form is a treacherous wife and her vile lover. Otherwise it's an engaging crime drama with so many juicy plot twists and surprises that it's impossible to talk about the plot without including spoilers. The straightforward direction is by Arthur Lubin, who would release the first of five Francis the Talking Mule movies the year IMPACT was released. Mr. Lubin also developed the Mr. Ed television series, as well as directing Maverick and Bonanza. This is a piece with those other works; not a lot of style but uniformly entertaining. Brian Donlevy is excellent as the wronged husband. In a scene that was probably more shocking in 1949 than it is today, Donlevy sobs uncontrollably. Oddly enough the two women in the movie - Good Girl Ella Raines and Bad Girl/Scheming Wife Helen Walker let drop nary a sincere tear. Walker's character does indeed put on a show of tears for the suspicious detective, played with a slight Irish brogue by the always reliable Charles Coburn. If you're expecting cartons of cigarettes and a city full of shadowed streets you're going to be disappointed. There's more than a touch of evil in this one, but it's not the focal point. If you want a good story competently told, this is for you. IMPACT is a lot of fun. "
In this world, you turn the other cheek, and you get hit wit
A. Gyurisin | Wet, Wild, Wonderful Virginia | 03/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a true believe that the best films that Hollywood ever produced came from the 1940s. Whether it was in the early 40s like the film Gaslight or later like Lean's Great Expectations, I have never seen so many great stories with so much originality, humanity, and creativity. Impact is no different. What transformed this picture from your typical film-noir thriller into a full-fledged murder/mystery is not just the creative story, but also the strong characters, the twisting themes, and the questionable ending. Impact could not have been as fascinating as it was if it were not for the impressive story. From the opening scene, we think that we have this film already pegged as your typical "wife cheats on man and he now wants revenge" story, but as director Arthur Lubin guides us further down his diabolical path, we learn that there is going to be more surprises than we originally anticipated. These surprises will not only lock your jaw in a shocked position, but it will also provide 111 minutes of pure uncut film-noir.
I have read other reviews that claim that Impact does not fall within the typical film-noir genre. I see where they are saying this, but I do not agree. Lubin, I believe, was creating a classy film-noir for his audience, but he tricked us. He not only tricked us from the beginning of the film to the end, but also where the film-noir style should be placed. We assume that the because Brian Donlevy is our centralized character that he has to be the dark and brooding one the entire time, causing the sensation of film-noir. I saw this film in a different light. As Lubin kept Donlevy in the eye of the camera for most of the film, I thought that the true sinister, dark, brooding, spooky, and edgy character was Irene. Helen Walker did a superb job with this role. Not only did she portray the backstabbing wife with such precision and ease, but she also played this very strong character that I was not expecting. That sensation of film-noir with the themes of suspicion, anxiety, and pessimism are all collected well within Walker's portrayal of Irene. It is this character that fully embodies the idea of film-noir, and I couldn't keep my eyes off her the entire film. To see such a powerful female character in such an early age of Hollywood impressed me. I do not see why Impact has not made a bigger impression in the film communities. It is a landmark film that will keep you guessing in a better way than any Shyamalan film will.
Even if you cannot agree with me about Lubin's slight of "film-noir" hands, it is unmistakably true that Impact contains some of the best story coupled with acting that we have seen in quite a long time. Even in today's Hollywood you just do not see this type of intensity, excitement, and curiosity as you found in Impact. I would not be surprised if we eventually saw a remake of this film in the future. It has all the elements that one would desire to be a box-office sensation; an evil wife, a passionate husband, and a dark secret. Who wouldn't love to see this? I personally could not keep my eyes off the story or the actors in this film. Brian Donlevy was beyond normal as the disarmed man facing the truth that his wife is no longer in love with him. This being my first Donlevy film, I cannot wait to see other pieces of his work. I think he was both strong and weak enough to carry the picture. He had to show that he still loved his wife, no matter what she did, and he pulled it off with so much dedication that I nearly wanted to stand up and clap for him in my living room. I have already spoken on Irene, who I believe matched Donlevy straw for straw. Lubin needed a character that was going to counter Donlevy's like-ability, and Helen Walker did just that. As audience members, we wanted to love her and hate her at the same time. Ella Raines was nothing spectacular, but did bring this light pro-feminism theme into this light film-noir thriller. Tony Barrett was the epitome of evil; never breaking character and always making me feel slimy. My personal favorite character was Lt. Tom Quincy. I have seen many parodies when they would use the southern flatfoot, but I had never seen a film that utilized this cliché character. Impact did it and Charles Coburn perfected it. As he attempted to solve the crime, he used the vice of kindness and dedication, making this critic smile with delight. He carried the truth of this film on his back without any struggle at all.
Overall, I thought that Impact was yet another great film that I can attribute to the 1940s. I don't know who the brains were during this cinematic time, but I wish I could go back and shake their hands. Their imagination, ability to keep audiences guessing, as well as produce great "B" level actors giving more than 100% of their abilities to a film is nearly impossible to find today. I would have loved to live during this era and see these films in the smoky auditoriums packed with untouched minds. Impact was nearly flawless. I guess it dragged sometimes, and the ending seemed to be wrapped up a bit too quickly (again, the happy factor wasn't needed at the end), but this film kept my attention throughout. I cannot wait to show this movie to friends and family. To fully see where we get our ideas for our films in the year 2006, we must make sure that we respect the films from the 1940s. Impact should be at the top of every film enthusiast's list!
Grade: ***** out of *****"
Watch This Film And You Won't Be Sorry!
A* | New York, N.Y. United States | 09/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Impact has a very simple plot Walter Williams is marked for death by his cheating wife but when the plans go wrong and Williams is alive the film plays a great game of catchup! Donlevy is the star of the flick and he does more to draw you into the flick than dialogue ever could. He may not be tall but he has an imposing facing! His eyes and strong facial structure is a sight to see! I have to say that the film could have been shorter but in doing this some amazing cinematography would have been lost the image of a prisoned Willams (Donlevey) looking through a gate at his future love is amazing and the scene where his lover chases a woman who is crucial in freeing Williams of a crime through the narrow streets and shadows of chinatown is perfection. Impact may not be perfect but is is a very atmospheric and engaging ride non the least!"
Solid Mystery, an Ode to Small Town American Values
William Hare | Seattle, Washington | 02/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Impact" is a sturdy 1949 release that delivers much in the way of suspense mystery, keeping viewers guessing, while also revealing much about small town American values in the early post-World War Two period. This was a time when people were accustomed to helping one another resulting, in part, from the Depression period.
The film begins with Brian Donlevy showing his firm side as head of a major construction company based in San Francisco. When the board of directors refuses to approve new plant construction he nonchalantly tells them that he will go elsewhere and put the same plan into effect. A 9-0 vote against then turns quickly into a unanimous margin in Donlevy's favor, showing how invaluable the board recognizes him to be.
Donlevy's Achilles heel is quickly recognized when he returns to the posh Nob Hill apartment he shares with beautiful, elegantly attired wife Helen Walker. Her pet name for Donlevy of "Softy" has him readily assenting. He tells her that she is the one person that causes the tough business executive to melt.
Walker causes Donlevy to gush while she in turn double deals. Using a bad toothache as a pretext for not traveling with Donlevy to Lake Tahoe, after which he will proceed on to Denver on business, she pulls off a scheme with paramour Tony Barrett. He is allegedly her "cousin" from Chicago.
After Walker tells Donlevy "regrettably" that she cannot make the trip with her toothache bothering her, she asks him if he will give her cousin a ride as far as Denver, where the executive has business activity scheduled.
Donlevy falls into her web and agrees. The plot is predictable enough, to get Donlevy out of the way so that the widow, after a period of appropriate "grieving," can find love with her new friend, augmented by a hefty inheritance courtesy of Donlevy.
To reveal anymore would jeopardize intricate plotting replete with numerous story twists. The film is divisible into two parts, Donlevy's activities prior to the moment with fate that will ultimately change his life, and when he arrives in the friendly town of 4,502 called Larkspur, Idaho, where he meets Ella Raines.
"Impact" adopts the familiar and time-proven "good girl-bad girl" duality with Walker naturally the latter and beautiful Ella Raines, a wholesome girl next door type, steering Donlevy from a state of bitterness combined with depression after he realizes that the woman who had meant more to him than anyone else has ruthlessly betrayed him and attempted to kill him.
Raines runs a gas station and seeks to double as a mechanic. She is much better at pumping gas and hires Donlevy to serve as mechanic. He then receives a different impression of life apart from the likes of Walker and Barrett. Not only is Raines sincere and solid; so is her mother, played by Mae Marsh.
Donlevy and Marsh hit it off instantly, so much so that she asks him if he would like to come and live with them. "You've got yourself a boarder," he tells her.
The simple decency of Larkspur is contrasted with the tougher world of San Francisco corporate boardrooms. Not only does Donlevy fix plenty of cars gratis; he also jumps into the community spirit by joining Larkspur's volunteer fire department.
Donlevy realizes that eventually he must return to San Francisco and face up to the responsibility of events spiraling around the machinations of Helen Walker. Raines insists on helping him, even after he ultimately is compelled to stand trial for "murder" for an alleged crime he never committed.
Raines' unswerving loyalty and assistance during such an hour of need, saving the man she loves from potential death by execution, is reminiscent of her role in "Phantom Lady" when she assists Allen Curtis.
Charles Coburn, a crafty San Francisco Police lieutenant nearing retirement, becomes convinced that Donlevy is a victim. He works closely with Raines to follow all leads, at one point drawing the disgust of his boss, played by veteran Broadway actor Robert Warwick, known for giving Humphrey Bogart a major early theater career break.
When time begins running out for Donlevy, Raines is able to garner valuable assistance from the defendant's former maid, played by notable character performer Anna May Wong. Her assistance prompts the team of Coburn and Raines to achieve a meaningful breakthrough on Donlevy's behalf at a critical moment.
Director Arthur Lubin maintains skillful pacing. He had earlier directed the Universal hit "Phantom of the Opera" with Susanna Foster, Nelson Eddy and Claude Rains. Later he would direct Universal's popular Francis the Talking Mule series.
Harry Popkin produced "Impact." In that same year of 1949 another Popkin-produced film debuted, the film noir classic "D.O.A." starring Edmond O'Brien."
A Nicely Done B-Plus Noir
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 04/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wealthy San Francisco industrialist Walter Williams (Brian Donlevy) has a big problem he's not aware of. The wife he loves, Irene Williams (Helen Walker), is a manipulating, two-timing slut who has a sleazy boy friend, and the two of them realize Williams is far more valuable to them dead than alive. She'll inherit his money and she can enjoy openly her boy friend. Their plan misfires, however. Williams survives the plot, at first with amnesia, and the boy friend dies in the fiery car crash, burnt beyond recognition and with everyone thinking the corpse was Williams.
This is a nicely done semi-noir, not quite an A movie, more like a B-plus. Donlevy plays Williams with his usual stolid directness and is very effective as a man who realizes his wife played him for a fool. When, gradually recovering his memory, he finds himself drifting into the small town of Larkspur, Idaho, he's torn between wanting vengeance on his wife and the prospects for a new life among honest people, doing the work of a car mechanic that he does well, and finding love in the person of Marsha Peters (Ella Raines). When Williams learns that his wife has been accused of planning his murder, he is inclined to let it happen. Marsha convinces him to return to San Francisco and set the record strait. When the tables are turned and Williams is accused of murdering his wife's boy friend, it becomes a race for Marsha to find the evidence that will clear Williams and implicate the wife.
Charles Coburn plays Lt. Tom Quincey, an elderly cop due to retire in a year who senses something fishy about the wife's story and decides to look into things more closely. Coburn is the engine who keeps the story on track; without him the story line could become convoluted. As it is, he keeps the plot chugging along. Helen Walker plays the wife and she's very good. She turns Irene Walker into a classy woman who is erotic and ruthless. In a small put important role is Anna May Wong as a servant in the Williams' San Francisco household who ultimately holds the key to Williams' exoneration and Irene's guilt.
All in all, this is good, well done film. Part of it is classic noir, but part of it also is sunny, small town America. The two images play off each other very well.
The DVD is in very good shape but there are no extras, not even cast biographies."