Quicksand

Overview

Mickey Rooney, with his kid roles and musicals behind him, went for a major change of image in this harrowing film noir. He gives what many consider to be the best performance of his career as Danny Brady, a well-meaning grease monkey whose life is destroyed in less than a week. Danny finds himself short of cash when he's supposed to take out Vera Jeanne Cagney, a waitress whom he's just met who works at a hash-house. He borrows 20 dollars from the cash register, planning on paying it back with 20 dollars that a ...
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DVD (Restored / B&W)
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Overview

Mickey Rooney, with his kid roles and musicals behind him, went for a major change of image in this harrowing film noir. He gives what many consider to be the best performance of his career as Danny Brady, a well-meaning grease monkey whose life is destroyed in less than a week. Danny finds himself short of cash when he's supposed to take out Vera Jeanne Cagney, a waitress whom he's just met who works at a hash-house. He borrows 20 dollars from the cash register, planning on paying it back with 20 dollars that a buddy owes him the next day, but the friend doesn't turn up. To get the 20 dollars, he buys a 100-dollar watch on a payment plan and then hocks it for the 20 dollars, but a detective picks up on the purchase and threatens to have him jailed if he doesn't pay the full 100 dollars immediately; desperate to raise the money, he robs a drunken bar patron of his bill-fold. His money problems seemingly behind him, Danny takes Vera out with the extra cash, but gets into a fight with her former boss, Nick Peter Lorre, who picks up a clue that Danny did the robbery. Nick pressures Danny to provide him with a new car a hard-to-get commodity in 1950 from the garage where he works, in return for keeping quiet. Danny steals the car and turns it over to Nick, but he and Vera decide to get even by robbing Nick's safe that night -- now they've got 3,600 dollars, which they split. But Danny's boss, Mackey, tells him he knows who stole the car, and wants either the car back or the full value, or he'll turn Danny in to the police. Vera has already blown her share on a mink coat, and he goes back to Mackey with what he has, 1,800 dollars. Mackey takes it and proceeds to call the police. Danny attacks him and leaves him for dead. Danny goes on the run, convinced he's wanted for Mackey's murder. Danny runs into Helen Barbara Bates, a nice girl that he was dating and then dumped, and they end up fleeing together, hijacking a car and holding an innocent man at gunpoint. Impending tragedy seems to loom up even larger when they cross paths with police officers on a manhunt. Realizing that Helen has been good to him, he ends up on the run alone, with a gun in hand, as the law closes in.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Quicksand is one of the most harrowing examples of film noir ever made, and also one of the more fascinating social documents of its era. Mickey Rooney (who financed this film with Peter Lorre and saw both his and Lorre's shares of the profits stolen by their third partner) gives the best performance of his career as a well-meaning but not too bright schlub who finds himself sinking ever deeper into a maze of theft and assault, and even murder. Director Irving Pichel shows a fine eye for detail in both the performances and the action. Much of the movie was shot in actual locations on the sleazy Southern California amusement piers where it was set; additionally, the characters in the film, especially the men, act and talk like real guys, not characters in a movie -- the dialogue and the banter, and even the way they stand and interact with each other, all feels real and harsh. One gets a vivid sense of the texture of working-class life during that period, long enough after World War II for fun and games, and an easygoing approach to life, but with an underlying unease reflecting the era of Korea, the Red Scare, and the uncertainty lying just below the surface of American life. Indeed, the nature of the story and the dark, shadowy treatment of so much of the action seems to be an unsettling commentary on the fragility of the stability of life, made even more compelling by the accepted optimism of the era.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/26/2014
  • UPC: 874757050492
  • Original Release: 1950
  • Rating:

  • Source: Film Chest
  • Presentation: Restored / B&W
  • Time: 1:19:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 2,312

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mickey Rooney Dan Brady, auto mechanic
Jeanne Cagney Vera Novak, cafe cashier
Barbara Bates Helen
Peter Lorre Nick Dramoshag, Penny Arcade Owner
Taylor Holmes Harvey
Art Smith Mackey, garage owner
Wally Cassell Chuck
Minerva Urecal Landlady
Patsy O'Connor Millie
Richard Lane Lt. Nelson
John Gallaudet Mortarity
Lester Dorr Baldy
Kitty O'Neil Madame Zaronga
Frank Marlowe Watchman
Alvin Hammer Auditor
Ray Teal Motorcycle Officer
Jimmy Dodd Buzz
Technical Credits
Irving Pichel Director
Mort Briskin Producer
Louis Gruenberg Score Composer
Boris Leven Production Designer
Lionel Lindon Cinematographer
Emil Newman Art Director, Musical Direction/Supervision
Robert Smith Screenwriter
Walter Thompson Editor
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