"Behind Green Lights" by Otto Brower (1946)

Well, who knew - "Rashomon" could have been inspired by this obscure little detective mystery that also uses premise of several characters telling their points of view. I could almost see little wheels turning in brain of Akira Kurosawa while he let it all simmer and than cooked his own creation, after all this is what all great artists do. That this now forgotten 20th Century Fox movie is neglected and mostly unknown makes it even more interesting.

Right from the start we are pulled into delicious period piece, this is initially stereotype black and white detective story set in a police station and filmed mostly indoors but it all gives it a perfectly right atmosphere and charm - movies like this were made almost like on factory track, without great ambitions or pretensions, cinematic equivalent of pulp fiction crime paperbacks - and I dare the viewer not to enjoy it once you are comfortably set in front of the screen. Police lieutenant Sam Carson (William Gargan) works amongst corrupted staff and nosy reporters who are all fast-talking, hard-boiled and obviously make his life unbearable (crimes themselves appear less complicated than these Hyenas). When new case arrives literary on his doorstep, Carson faces moral dilemma as circumstances are set to compromise his principles - if he cooperates, he might even get promotion but we understand that he is good guy and will probably follow his conscience. Even though the latest victim was obviously a nasty creep, suspicion falls on two beautiful dames whom lieutenant must handle carefully (Carole Landis was magnetic) while his co-workers basically do everything to make it even more complicating. "Behind Green Lights" is delightful little cake of movie, not exactly film noir but almost there, I guess just too many comic gags keep it from being true suspense. There is a wonderful turn by elderly flower lady Flossie (Mabel Paige) who is perfect example of how veteran actors often found their way into movies and stole every scene.

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