"Automobile mechanic Mickey Rooney spots killer-blonde waitress Jeanne Cagney (Jimmy's sister) working at the local diner and impulsively asks her out. His troubles begin when she accepts. The cash strapped Rooney lifts a $20 bill out of the till at the garage where he's employed. The couple spend a pleasant evening window shop drooling (Jeanne) over a $2000 mink and glaring (Mickey) at ex-boyfriend, husband, or something Peter Lorre at the penny arcade he manages. Trouble arrives the next morning in the person of the garage's accountant, who's a couple of days early and sure to spot the missing double sawbuck. Dark eyed blondes are murder in movies like QUICKSAND, and before you can say "Andy Hardy" Rooney is up to his neck and sinking fast. QUICKSAND is well crafted and, on its own terms, convincing enough. The toughest pill it has us swallow concerns Rooney. Even if he was pushing 30 when this one was made, he still looks like a baby-faced teenager. You can't blame an actor for being short and young looking, but it makes it hard to believe two beautiful women are interested in him, or that Judge Hardy is letting him stay out long enough to get into all the trouble he gets into in this one. Rooney has always had a sunshine-y, puckish charisma which found no outlet in this dark tale of a life unraveling. In other words, QUICKSAND doesn't play to his strengths. Lorre fares best and his scenes with Rooney are delightful. Lorre never had to present his bona fides when playing an unsavory character - he oozed sleaze. Coupling his physical assets - short stature, protruding eyes, a decadently foreign accent - with master acting abilities and nearly flawless timing Lorre consistently rose above all but the best of material, as he does so here. I wish his role had been larger. Best scene - while putting the squeeze on Rooney's character, Lorre is told "You must be crazy!" Catching the beat and riding it out to the exact millisecond, Lorre lifts a hooded eyelid and says "No, I don't think so." A pretty flat line on the page, but with Lorre's reading it's the coda to the best scene in the movie. Did I mention it would have been nice if he'd been in more scenes? The delicately beautiful Barbara Bates plays Rooney's Good Girl ex-girlfriend. In movies like this, Good Girls are usually around just long enough to get jilted in act one. If lucky, they're allowed to throw a pair of sad puppy eye looks at the hero before disappearing. They typically reappear in act three, ten minutes before the closing credits, with either a downy shoulder for a repentant hero to lean on or a funeral to arrange. The Bad Girl, on the other hand, has it all going her way. She gets the juicy act two meat, dresses better, gets her name above the title and her picture on the posters. They're usually given a swollen scene or two to chew on and something to foam at the mouth over before the movie tosses them out. Oh, yeah, and they gets to dress better, too. Most of the time she's the "good" actress, while the other is the "pretty" actress - although with so little business to attend to, it's hard to tell exactly what kind of actress the Good Girl is either way. Miscast or not, Rooney is decent enough in QUICKSAND, an entertaining and unspectacular film "
Surprise! CLASSIC Film Noir!
Sherm Cohen | Los Angeles, CA | 11/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"100% fun film-noir rollercoaster in which Mickey Rooney plays an amoral mechanic who makes one horrible decision after another, getting himself stuck deeper and deeper in the quicksand of his predicament. The plot is hokey, but so satisfying...it includes a great femme-fatale and a swell part played by Peter Lorre. The photography is top-notch, and the San Francisco boardwalk (nighttime, natch)scenery is wonderful. Rooney is actually very good in this...he makes you root for him even though he acts like a jerk all the way through the picture. If you've ever dug yourself into a well of trouble, you'll really relate to this one! Enjoy!"
larryj1 | AZ, USA | 05/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an entertaining little film with Rooney and Lorre. The Image DVD is very good quality and the best available."
If you can accept Mickey Rooney as a noir protagonist, you m
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 04/22/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Dan Brady, a short, dumb palooka, tells us, "I feel like I'm bein' shoved into a corner, and if I don't get out soon, it'll be too late. Maybe it's too late already!"
Vera Novak, a platinum-blonde bad girl, gives us this, "It's not what you run away to; it's what you run away from."
Elsewhere, Dan confides, "I had the right girl all along and I didn't know it."
This just about sums up the story line in Quicksand, a B-movie noir that hits a lot of the clichés but which is well photographed. Two things stand out, First, the movie just might have become a minor classic if it had kept to the ironic downbeat ending it was rushing toward, and if it had been better cast. The second thing is the overpowering feeling that we're watching part of the endless B-movie melodrama that Mickey Rooney's career became. Quicksand was made in 1950 and Rooney's great days were long over. He was just 30 years old. The genuinely entertaining MGM movies he made in the Thirties had faded. He had suddenly, in his mid-20's after WWII, begun to look like the kind of youthful middle-aged failure you want to avoid. His studio support had been yanked out from under him. His attempts to create a new image were going nowhere, limited by his own often self-conscious intensity and by what awful offers he was getting. Being married to and then divorced from the zaftig Ava Gardner only added to the general snickering.
In Quicksand, Rooney is Dan Brady, a mechanic at Mackey Motors in Bay City, owned by the aging, sly, and morally corrupt Oren Mackey. One day Dan, who thinks of himself as a hot shot ladies man, meets Vera Novak (Jeanne Cagney), a blond waitress with icy eyes who has gold-digger finger-painted all over her. Dan scarcely notices Helen (Barbara Bates), the nice girl who has fallen for him. Dan takes a 20-dollar bill from the cash register to pay for a big night out on a date with Vera. He intends to replace the money on his payday. Then the auditors show up and Dan has to find a way to get the money quick. Things escalate as Dan takes one thickheaded action after another, digging himself in deeper, leading to armed theft and phone-cord strangulation. All the while Vera is playing him like a cheap accordion while Helen just wants to help him. Along the way Peter Lorre, as the owner of a tawdry pinball parlor on Bay City's pier who knows Vera too well, wanders into the film, adds to Dan's woes, and wanders off. At one point Lorre, now noticeably heavy, and Rooney, looking like an overwrought Andy Hardy, get into a fight with fists and a knife that is...I'll be honest...pretty darn good. The fight is brief and darkly lit, but both actors look like they were trying. Lorre, in fact, gives the best performance in the movie as a man you do not want to do business with.
At each step of Dan's descent it was tough not to yell out, "You numbskull, don't do that." There's little satisfaction in watching a dumb guy too dumb to know better do dumb things. This isn't Burt Lancaster screwing up his life because of Yvonne De Carlo. Dan is a second-rater, too dense in his idea of himself as a killer with the ladies to notice he just might become a killer for real. But casting messes everything up. Jeanne Cagney is one of the most severe looking femmes fatale I've ever seen in a noir. That Vera could mesmerize even a lunk like Dan stretches the point. She was James Cagney's sister and has his eyes. Glenn Erickson once said, perhaps not too kindly, ""The moment you realize she's James Cagney's sister, she starts looking like Cody Jarrett wearing a dress..." And then there's Mickey Rooney as a noir protagonist. His deadly serious, almost staccato tough-guy line delivery is just over-the-top earnestness. The two of them make for a decidedly odd couple...not laughable, but not believable. Still, the movie has a great, gritty noir look about it. Quicksand is in the public domain. The version I have is watchable but that's about all. I've heard that Image has put out a release that looks good.
If you like noirs and the price is right, you might like this one. If you like movies and the price is right, you'll certainly wind up reflecting on the long, unique and unsettling career of Mickey Rooney. As a side note, Rooney and Lorre put up a chunk of the financing for the movie. Not a penny came back."
An Inexpensive Surprise
Samantha Kelley | USA | 06/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mickey Rooney stars in Quicksand, a great film about how a small unnoticeable crime can turn into something large and out of control if one isn't careful. After needing money for a date with a beautiful woman in town (Jeanne Cagney), Dan turns to his cash register at the auto shop where he works for a twenty that he can easily replace later. However, when the accountant comes early to check up on the place, he's in need of cash faster than he planned, so he buys a watch on the installment plan and pawns it for the cash. When he learns this is a crime, he has to come up with $100 in a day, leading to even more problems down the line.
Rooney is wonderful in the leading role of this gripping film. His innocent face does not hinder him in this serious part. His kisses are passionate and reason to support why he was such a ladies man.
Although this is a bargain DVD, the picture is crisp and clear and the sound quality is good."