7.22.2008

Without Warning!




Angela Stevens and Adam Williams in Without Warning! (dir. Arnold Laven, 1952).

Straightforwardly scary noirish thriller-procedural that feels like it has blood and gore even though it doesn't. Adam Williams is understated--and pitch-perfect--as the wholesome-looking gardener Carl Martin (no relation to the fine poet!) who uses his shears to dispatch attractive blondes. Wholesome-looking, that is, until you catch a little tremor in the lip or flutter of the eyelid that says "deep psychosis." Even just the way he walks, kind of shyly waddling along like a guilty kid, is enough to make you uncomfortable. Angela Stevens, as a very game bar girl, makes her small role into a minor set piece.

The first directorial effort from Arnold Laven, who had been a script supervisor on films such as D.O.A. and He Walked By Night. He went on to do a handful more in the fifties and sixties (including interesting-sounding titles like Vice Squad, Down Three Dark Streets, and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue), and a ton of TV up through the mid-eighties.

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