It seems like everything done in black and white in the forties, unless there was some singing and dancing in it, is now a film noir. (Well, excluding Olivier's 1949 Hamlet, I suppose.) When this "Poverty Row" production came out in 1948 I'm sure it was billed as a mystery/suspense tale, but never mind. "Film noir" is now a growth industry.
There's a gumshoe, Ross Stewart played by Richard Carlson, whom I recall most indelibly as Herbert A. Philbrick of TV's cold war espionage series "I Led Three Lives" from the fifties when HUAC had us all looking under our beds for commies. Lucille Bremer, near the end (which was also near the beginning) of a very modest filmland career, co-stars as Kathy Lawrence, a newspaper woman with a story idea. She needs a private eye to do the investigative dirty work.
Ross Stewart has just hung out his gumshoe shingle and had the frosted glass door of his office lettered and is paying the painter when Kathy Lawrence shows up. (I love all the private eye movies which begin with the dame showing up at the PI's office needing help. So logical, so correct; so like a noir "Once upon a time.") She wants him to pretend to be insane so that she can get him committed to a private sanitarium where she believes a corrupted judge is hiding, thus the locked doors in the title.
What I liked about this is the way the low-budget production meshed with the gloomy and aptly named "La Siesta Sanitarium," the scenes shot in rather dim light giving everything a kind of shady appearance. The story itself and the direction by Oscar "Budd" Boetticher defines "pedestrian," but there is a curious and authentic period piece feel to the movie that can't be faked. Postmodern directors wanting to capture late-forties, early fifties L.A. atmosphere would do well to take a look at this tidy 62-minute production.
Tor Johnson, the original "hulk" (perhaps) plays a dim-witted but violent punch drunk ex-fighter who is locked in a padded cell. He comes to life when the fire extinguisher outside his door is sadistically "rung" by one of the attendants with his keys, thereby springing the hulk into shadow boxing imaginary opponents. Could it be that he will get a live one later on...?
See this for Richard Carlson who made a fine living half a century ago playing the lead or supporting roles in a slew of low budget mystery, horror and sci fi pictures, most notably perhaps The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).