"I'm going to stick around and bother people."
Best remembered, if at all, for introducing the song Mona Lisa, 1950's Captain Carey, U.S.A. aka After Midnight is a very decent little thriller that sees Alan Ladd's former O.S.S. agent returning to the small Italian village where he was betrayed, his lover (Wanda Hendrix) killed and 27 villagers massacred by the Germans to find out who was really responsible. It's not a popular return: the villagers blame him for bringing death to their town (so much so they gang up to stone him in the street) and there are more emotionally painful reunions in store before he uncovers the truth. It's not particularly challenging, although surprisingly the most obvious suspects turn out to be innocent, but it's at times surprisingly bitter, with Ladd much better than usual as the disenchanted hero who's been letting his wounds poison him for years.
Although you'll never believe for a moment that you're in Italy rather than Hollywood, it's a solidly produced old-school studio system picture with decent direction by Mitchell Leisen and a half-decent supporting cast including Joseph Calleia, one-time Dracula Francis Lederer, six-times Charlie Chan Roland Winters and a young Russ Tamblyn when he was still billed as Rusty Tamblyn. The use of the Oscar winning Mona Lisa - which doesn't even get a mention in the film's credits - is particularly interesting: rather than the familiar vocal version, we only get a brief rendition in Italian, not as a serenade but as a warning sign of oncoming danger, an idea that's neatly replayed in purely instrumental terms long after the Germans have left.
Sadly Olive Film's region-free US Blu-ray is a disappointment due to the poor master material Paramount provided them with: while it's not disastrous, the film's clearly had no restoration and has a lot of minor contrast issues and is one it's probably best to save a few bucks on by opting for the DVD instead since the higher definition just seems to draw attention to the flaws. No extras either.