Impact (1949)

 “Fate plays an important part in these matters.”

In Impact, a noir title from director Arthur Lubin, wealthy businessman Walter Williams (Brian Donlevy) is the victim of a murder plot concocted by his faithless wife, Irene (Helen Walker), and her lowlife boyfriend, Jim Torrance (Tony Barrett). The murder plot goes awry, and Torrance is left dead while Walter walks away. Unfortunately, the police have a body on their hands and assuming that Walter is dead, the hunt is on for the person (s) responsible. Meanwhile Walter, in a state of shock at his wife’s betrayal wanders off to Idaho where he establishes a new life for himself.

Charles Coburn plays Lt Quincy–along with a fake Irish accent, and Ella Raines plays Marsha Peters, a war widow who runs a petrol station in an almost comical, idealized depiction of small-town life in Idaho. Some of the scenes involving the volunteer fire department were ludicrous, and they detracted from the overall noir mood. The character of Marsha Peters was totally unappealing–this may due in part to those Maechen hairdos. I kept expecting her to say ‘Ja’ and grab a milking bucket. As one of the two leading females in the film, Marsha Peters is a hard-working contrast to Irene, Walter’s ridiculously spoiled wife.

Impact blends in many references to the ramifications of WWII to people’s lives. Marsha Peters, for example, is determined to keep the business open–even though her husband died during the war and she really can’t manage alone. Lowlife Jim Torrance, may or may not be a former soldier cast adrift after the war, and this notion obviously raises some sympathy from the purposeful Walter. I loved the film’s emphasis on Irene’s obsession with monograms. This is a clearly a demonstration of her acquisitiveness.

Overall a B noir but worth catching in spite of its faults.

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