Dark City is a solid film noir that introduces Charlton Heston in his first Hollywood starring role. We can see in this why Charlton Heston became a major star: he exudes the charisma and strength of character of a leading man, and the pedigree of a handsome man with an above average physique. We see in this film that Heston is a good actor, but more importantly, the camera loves him. When he is on the screen, the viewer is simply seduced by his presence.
The film is about a group of seedy gamblers, all played by solid character actors, and led by Charlton Heston's character. They find a mark in Don DeFore, very effective in a small but crucial role, and set him up in a couple of poker games to take him for $5,000 that he was supposed to deliver on behalf of a group he represented. Five grand was alot of money in 1950, and as a consequence, in a moment of despair and remorse, he commits suicide.
This is when the film gets interesting, since even though Don DeFore was a mild and docile character in the film, he had a domineering brother with a serious mean streak, and as it turns out, an old fashion idea of justice. He goes about murdering the gamblers who caused his brother's suicide, until we are left with Heston trying to figure out how to save himself from his homicidal nemesis. The film does a good job of creating an ominous suspense, and it is clever how it goes about portraying the vengeful brother of the suicide victim.
I have to admit that I found the involvement of Heston's character with DeFore's widow in the film rather strange and a bit out of character for the kind of man Heston was playing, but I suppose the film makers used it as a vehicle to show the change in Heston's character and how he attempts to redeem himself for what he has done.
I am a great admirer of Lizabeth Scott, but in my opinion she is wasted in this film. She does get to sing a couple of tunes, and she's not bad doing it. But, her role in this film is more eye candy than anything else, and I have seen her in much better roles in other film noirs. Ultimately, this film is Charlton Heston's, and Heston's alone.
This was an enjoyable film to view, and this film being Charlton Heston's first leading role, just ads a major bonus. A solid film noir with a timeless quality.