For the first time in several years TCM showed THE FALLEN SPARROW, based on a novel by Dorothy B. Hughes, who also wrote the novels IN A LONELY PLACE and RIDE THE PINK HORSE. THE FALLEN SPARROW, though not one of my very favorite noirs, has a fine brooding intensity as Spanish Civil War vet and torture victim Kit McKittrick (John Garfield, in a role that's perfect for him) returns to New York to find out who killed his buddy. Could one of the refugees from the Nazis actually be a Nazi agent, perhaps even the limping man who oversaw the torture? Kit finds his old society girlfriend (Patricia Morison, who disappears from the movie too soon for my liking), discovers that the "Imp" (Martha O'Driscoll) isn't at all the funny awkward little girl he knew, and falls head over heels for a mystery woman (Maureen O'Hara, who's so beautiful in this movie that anyone would flip for her). Wheelchair-bound Walter Slezak silkily caresses each syllable when he talks about different kinds of torture. Some of the movie may unfold a bit predictably, but the journey is worth taking.
Richard Wallace directs; Nicholas Musuraca is the gifted cinematographer; Edward Stevenson provides the gowns, which deserve the full commentary of our fashionistas. Maureen O'Hara, beautifully lit by Musuraca, has a flawless complexion, and the upswept 40s hair actually looks good on her. Garfield gives full value to the anger, sarcasm, determination, and fear of insanity without lapsing into the hammy or the obvious. Parts of this film, which I last saw when Bob Dorian was introducing classic films on AMC, stick in the mind.