HomeReviewsSavant 3-D Blu-ray Review: “Man in the Dark” (1953)

Savant 3-D Blu-ray Review: “Man in the Dark” (1953)

In the Savant 3-D Blu-ray review of “Man in the Dark,” the film is praised for its captivating storytelling and visually stunning cinematography.

When Arch Oboler’s Bwana Devil sparked excitement about 3-D as Hollywood’s potential savior, a Columbia production made quickly and inexpensively was the first studio film to be shown on screens.

Producer Wallace MacDonald had the 1936 amnesia-plastic surgery story The Man Who Lived Twice adapted into a relatively light noir thriller.

Savant 3-D Blu-ray Review: Man in the Dark

Man in the Dark attracted audiences already interested in the 3-D craze due to the extensive publicity.

Warners’ House of Wax premiered two days later, missing the opportunity to be first but ultimately making much larger profits.

The revised plot removes the plastic surgery element but retains the unsettling concept that doctors could use brain surgery to “cure” criminals of their illegal tendencies.

Convicted criminal Steve Rawley (played by Edmond O’Brien) volunteers for the operation, half-expecting not to survive. He has complete amnesia and a more cheerful demeanor when he wakes up.

Renamed “Blake,” he eagerly looks forward to starting a new life tending the hospital’s hedges.

However, Steve is kidnapped and severely beaten by his former criminal associates Lefty, Arnie, and Cookie (portrayed by Ted de Corsia, Horace McMahon, and Nick Dennis), who are intent on finding the whereabouts of the money from their last robbery.

Despite his old girlfriend Peg Benedict’s (played by Audrey Totter) attempts to jog his memory, Steve cannot recall anything.

Nonetheless, strange dreams provide clues that could help Steve and Peg locate the coveted $130,000.

Columbia head Harry Cohn’s dedication to 3-D had limitations, as Man in the Dark is a hastily produced film that is only notable for its cast of noir legends.

The adapted storyline is filled with lackluster “smart” dialogue, indicating the writers’ awareness of previous hardboiled thrillers.

One line borrows a phrase about money “being a piece of paper with germs” from Edgar Ulmer’s Detour.

Man in the Dark
Man in the Dark

Also, see Eight Reasons Why You Should Dump That LCD Television and Buy an HD Projector.

Man in the Dark is occasionally categorized as a sci-fi film because of its concept of using surgery to correct criminal behavior.

If this concept had been more thoroughly explored, the movie might have resonated with later sci-fi works such as A Clockwork Orange.

However, in the film, Dr. Marston (played by Dayton Lummis) only manages to erase Steve Rawley’s mind, leaving it assumed that he is no longer a criminal.

The doctor sees no issue in wiping out a person’s identity, but he does object to Rawley being interrogated by the insurance investigator Jawald (played by the unsettling Dan Riss).

Despite the expectation that Steve’s brain, post-surgery, might be sensitive, he suffers no adverse effects from the beatings inflicted by the sadistic Lefty.

Disillusioned with his old associates, Steve escapes to find the missing money for himself, but he struggles to remember where he hid it.

Peg Benedict suspects that he is returning to his criminal ways. Initially, Peg acts like a typical femme fatale, enticing Steve to find a quick route to a large payday.

However, she later accuses her ex-criminal boyfriend of reverting to his old self and argues that since they are in love, they don’t need the money.

Tension arises when Jawald’s investigator proves to be as evil as the criminals, willing to let the dangerous fugitives remain at large and assault Steve as long as they lead him to the cash.

The ethical implications of fighting crime are swiftly abandoned, along with any inquiries about the specifics of Steve’s brain surgery.

Instead, the film features a few chases in studio backlots and a dream sequence in which Steve and a dozen cops board an amusement park ride.

As an animated statue of a rotund lady cackles, the hallucinated officers draw their guns and shoot at Steve simultaneously.

The thrilling conclusion, heavily promoted in advertisements, features Steve embarking on an exhilarating roller coaster journey.

This takes place at the renowned Pacific Ocean Park Pier, where the substantial wooden roller coaster is also visible from identical angles in the film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, released in the same year.

An intense chase involving stunt performers portraying Edmond O’Brien and Ted de Corsia takes place on the rooftop of Columbia Studios at their former Sunset & Gower location.

Keen-eyed viewers can glimpse the first two letters of the Hollywood Sign, followed by the unmistakable sign for the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel a few seconds later.

Director Lew Landers, known for his prolific output of about six features a year, including twelve titles in 1942 alone, utilized the 3-D format in Man in the Dark by frequently thrusting small objects into the camera, such as medical instruments, guns, spiders, and a bird.

Variety’s review emphasized that the 3-D effects were the film’s main draw while suggesting that “Miss Totter’s figure is a definite 3-D asset.”

This type of coverage aligns with earlier promises made about the erotic potential of 3-D in reviews of Universal’s It Came From Outer Space.

Savant 3-D Blu-ray Review
Man in the Dark

Edmond O’Brien’s career as a leading actor was declining during this period, as was Audrey Totter’s time as a prominent noir femme fatale.

Both deliver professional solid performances, although the antagonists Ted de Corsia (known for The Naked City and The Killing) and Nick Dennis (recognized for Kiss Me Deadly and Spartacus) are more entertaining to watch.

The costume designer outfitted Dennis in the most absurd-looking striped suit, and his unruly hairstyle created a perfect budget impression.

The Twilight Time Blu-ray + 3-D of Man in the Dark presents a pristine transfer of this unique film.

It is one of only two official film noir shot in the 3-D format, maintaining the correct Academy aspect ratio consistent with its April ’53 release.

The Isolated Score Track offers the complete effect of stock film music rearranged for the movie, seamlessly blending the work of several composers.

This release marks Twilight Time’s inaugural 3-D offering and the disc debut for Man in the Dark.

The included trailer hypes the special shoot with Edmond O’Brien directly addressing the camera, creating an aura of secrecy around the film’s production.

The menu for the 3-D version is accessible only on 3-D disc players, reverting to the high-quality flat HD version on standard players.

The 3-D effect is satisfying, although some shots lack the meticulous design found in more costly productions.

Notably, the film uses a roller coaster ride to showcase its 3-D depth, reminiscent of the approach used a year earlier in This Is Cinerama.

Julie Kirgo’s liner notes provide insights into the custom rig used to film Man in the Dark and offer commentary on the use of 3-D in the dream sequences, making this disc an enticing choice for owners of 3-D home theater equipment.

Savant 3-D Blu-ray Review: “Man in the Dark” (1953)
Man in the Dark

Man in the Dark

Blu-ray + 3D

Twilight Time

1953 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 70 min. / Street Date January 21, 2014 / available through Screen Archives Entertainment / 29.95

Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly?
YES; Subtitles: English

Packaging: Keep case

Starring Edmond O’Brien, Audrey Totter, Ted de Corsia, Horace McMahon, Nick Dennis, Dayton Lummis, and Dan Riss.

Cinematography Floyd Crosby

Film Editor Viola Lawrence

Musical Director Ross DiMaggio

George Antheil, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, George Duning, Herman Hand, Paul Mertz, Ben Oakland, Hans J. Salter, and Marlin Skiles are stock music composers.

Written by George Bricker, Jack Leonard, and William Sackheim, from the 1936 film The Man Who Lived Twice by Tom Van Dycke & Henry Altimus

Produced by Wallace MacDonald

Directed by Lew Landers

Also, see DVD Review: “Providence” (1977)

Ashish Maharjan
Ashish Maharjan
Ashish, a seasoned editor and author for World Cinema Paradise, intricately weaves creativity with precision in his writing, establishing himself as a prolific content creator. Renowned for clarity and captivating storytelling, Ashish has cultivated a devoted readership, driven by his unwavering passion for words and commitment to excellence.

Expertise: World Cinema Reviews Cinematic Analysis


  • Demonstrates a flair for in-depth research across diverse cinematic topics
  • Proficient in crafting informative and engaging content that resonates with a global audience.
  • Analytical prowess to interpret and convey nuanced aspects of world cinema.
  • Experience

    Ashish, the guiding hand behind World Cinema Paradise, crafts insightful narratives that delve into the lives of celebrities and the intricacies of the film industry. With a knack for balancing entertainment and analysis, Ashish ensures an engaging and informative experience for World Cinema Paradise enthusiasts, making it a reliable source for the latest in celebrity news and movie reviews.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

- Advertisment -