Edge of Doom (1950) DVD Review: Can Dana Andrews Save Farley Granger’s Soul?

Prolific filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn left this world in 1974 to start issuing malapropisms in the world beyond, he had personally produced no less than 139 films, to say nothing of the motion pictures he had distributed, presented, or even lent his assistance to for other filmmakers around the world. And yet, with titles such as Wuthering Heights, The Best Years of Our Lives, and These Three under his belt, Mr. Goldwyn only ever made one film noir. And just like many of his other successes, the seldom-seen 1950 noir Edge of Doom, has the distinction of being one of the most unflinchingly bleakest “religious” movies ever made ‒ even though the film really never takes a stance on religion one way or the other.

Confused? Well, you won’t be half as confused as the film’s two stars: Dana Andrews as street-wise priest Father Thomas Roth, and young Farley Granger as Martin Lynn: a young, mentally unbalanced lad with quite the grudge against Catholicism. For you see, Marty’s father committed suicide years ago, which was an irreconcilable sin to the local parish priest Father Kirkman (Harold Vermilyea), who refused to give dear ol’ dead dad a proper burial. And now that Martin’s mum (Frances Morres) is terminally ill, he returns to Father Kirkman ‒ now a curmudgeonly old man ‒ to ask for assistance. To say things don’t go as Martin planned is an understatement, especially since he uses Kirkman’s crucifix to bludgeon him to death with!

As police detective Robert Keith (Woman on the Run) searches for the killer, Father Thomas (who narrates the tale to another priest) pieces the puzzle together himself (was this the precursor to Father Dowling Mysteries?) as our tormented antihero begins a battle with his increasing inner demons. Joan Evans is Farley’s girlfriend. Paul Stewart (in one of his first roles), is lucky hood with Adele Jergens on his arm. Mala Powers also stars, while one film noir’s quintessential heavies ‒ Douglas Fowley ‒ plays a detective for once. Mark Robson directs the unusual film noir from a script by Philip Yordan (who later penned many ’50s epics such as King of Kings, El Cid, and Battle of the Bulge), based on a novel by Leo Brady.

Despite having been a part of the Samuel Goldwyn library for the better half of a millennia now, Edge of Doom has only recently seen the light (yes, I went there) thanks to not only a growing interest in film noir (thank God!), but also due to the tireless efforts of the Warner Archive Collection. Though the Manufactured-on-Demand DVD-R is without any special features (something which is not at all uncommon for MOD releases), the transfer is about as crisp and clear as you could hope for. And when you stop to consider just how bleak the Edge of Doom really is, getting a mighty darn fine look at it from the front row is just what the doctor (or perhaps, the priest?) ordered. Recommended.

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Luigi Bastardo

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