AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Man in the Dark
Alternate Title: The Man Who Lived Twice
Director: Lew Landers (Dir)
Release Date:   Apr 1953
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 8 Apr 1953
Production Date:   27 Feb--17 Mar 1953
Duration (in mins):   66, 68 or 70
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Edmond O'Brien (Steve Rawley, also known as James Brooks)  
    Audrey Totter (Peg Benedict)  
    Ted de Corsia (Lefty)  
    Horace McMahon (Arnie)  
    Nick Dennis (Cookie)  
    Dayton Lummis (Dr. Marston)  
    Dan Riss (Jawald)  
    Shepard Menken (Intern)  
    John Harmon (Herman)  
    Ruth Warren (Mayme)  

Summary: Steve Rawley, a criminal serving a ten-year sentence for the theft of a $130,000 company payroll, is paroled after one year to Dr. Marston as a volunteer for experimental brain surgery. The surgery is successful, but leaves Steve with complete amnesia. Under the name of James Brooks, Steve recuperates slowly, believing he is recovering from an automobile accident. Dr. Marston tells visiting insurance investigator Jawald, who is assigned to track down the payroll money, that Steve should lead a productive law-abiding life, but Jawald is skeptical of Steve's amnesia. When Steve is almost fully recovered, members of his old gang, Lefty, Arnie and Cookie, kidnap him from the clinic grounds, anxious to retrieve the stolen money. At their hideout near an amusement park, Steve insists he is not Rawley, even when greeted with affection by his old girl friend, Peg Benedict, whom he does not recognize. After Steve hears a radio bulletin describing his abduction as a criminal escape, he grows uncertain, but continues to maintain his ignorance of the factory heist. Peg speaks with Steve alone, imploring him to be honest with her and confess the location of the money. She grows angry when Steve continues to disclaim any knowledge. Later that evening, Steve tries to telephone for help but is caught and beaten by Lefty and Arnie until Peg intervenes. Lefty shows Steve newspaper clippings of the robbery and describes the events of a year earlier: Steve plans every detail of the robbery, choosing Christmas Eve as the date because he knows there will be a cash bonus for the factory employees. After the theft, Steve escapes with the money while Lefty and the others hold off the police. Later when telephoning the gang, Steve panics upon seeing the police and is chased across the city rooftops before being captured. Lefty visits Steve monthly in prison, hoping to learn the location of the money, but Steve, suspicious about the relationship between Lefty and Peg, refuses to tell. In the present, Steve insists the details have triggered no recollections. Arnie, however, suddenly recalls that Steve wore a dark suit during the robbery, yet the newspaper photo at the arrest shows him in a light suit. Suspecting that Steve must have gone home and perhaps left the money there, the gang heads for his old house, now abandoned and up for sale. Peg, who has come to believe Steve is telling the truth, goes to a bar, where she laments with the bartender about still being in love with Steve. When Peg leaves, Jawald, who has been following her, asks the bartender for Peg's address. At Steve's old house, meanwhile, the gang breaks in and rummages about. Steve finds a small piece of paper with a number on it, but it provokes no memories. Steve then tries to escape but is recaptured and returned to the hideout, where Lefty wonders if the numbers are part of a combination. When Steve provides no answer, Lefty loses patience and has Arnie and Cookie beat him. Meanwhile, Jawald follows Peg to the apartment and watches the building with his partner. Later, Dr. Marston visits Jawald and warns him of Steve's fragile condition, but Jawald remains skeptical, convinced that Steve is shamming and will eventually lead him to the money. Back at the hideout, Peg tends to Steve who, in a semi-conscious state, has an unusual dream set at the amusement park, involving the police, Peg and a box of chocolates. Steve awakens distraught and Peg comforts him. A few days later, with Jawald still watching the apartment, Lefty offers Steve fifty percent of the money if he will finally reveal its location. Frustrated and angry, Steve reacts violently, then wonders with Peg if he is reverting to his old ways. Peg entreats Steve to remain the man that he has become and not allow the situation to change him. Steve and Peg escape and after following one false lead, Steve wonders about his dream and goes to the nearby amusement park pier, followed by the gang and Jawald. As Steve retraces the steps of his dream, he finds himself at a small package check counter and realizes the numbered paper is a claim check. His hopes are dashed, however, when the proprietor reveals that items are only held for sixty days. Steve asks to look in the back and high on a top shelf discovers a chocolate box with the matching number on it. Excited about finding the money, Steve determines to keep it, but Peg tells him she will not remain with him if he does. Meanwhile, Lefty and the others close in and Steve bolts with the box, jumping onto the roller coaster and jumping off at the top of the ride. Lefty follows and the two fight on the rafters until Lefty falls into the path of an oncoming car and is killed. Arnie continues chasing Steve, but is shot by the police, who were summoned by Jawald. Steve considers escaping with the money, but upon seeing Peg, decides to turn the money over to Jawald instead and try for a new life. 

Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: Lew Landers (Dir)
  Irving Moore (Asst dir)
Producer: Wallace MacDonald (Prod)
Writer: George Bricker (Scr)
  Jack Leonard (Scr)
  William Sackheim (Adpt)
  Tom Van Dycke (Story)
  Henry Altimus (Story)
Photography: Floyd Crosby (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: John Meehan (Art dir)
Film Editor: Viola Lawrence (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Robert Priestley (Set dec)
Music: Ross DiMaggio (Mus dir)
Sound: Lodge Cunningham (Sd eng)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Columbia Pictures Corp. 1/4/1953 dd/mm/yyyy LP2757

PCA NO: 16451
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  b&w: sepia
  Widescreen/ratio: 3-D

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
Subjects (Major): Amnesia
  Brain surgery
Subjects (Minor): Amusement parks
  Roller coasters

Note: The working title of the film was The Man Who Lived Twice . Although reviews refer to the operation that character "Steve Rawley" undergoes as a lobotomy, the procedure is not referred to specifically in the film. Man in the Dark was the first Columbia production to use the 3-D format, which, according to a Mar 1953 Var news item, was developed secretly in the studio lab. The news item further noted that the process required "two cameras, but no mirrors" and was "simple, light and mobile." Information in the copyright record indicates that Man in the Dark was released in sepia, but the print viewed was in standard format and black and white. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   1 Jul 53   p. 308.
Box Office   18 Apr 1953.   
Daily Variety   8 Apr 53   p. 3.
Film Daily   8 Apr 53   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Feb 53   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Mar 53   p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Apr 53   p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   11 Apr 53   p. 1789.
New York Times   9 Apr 53   p. 31.
Variety   4 Mar 1953.   
Variety   8 Apr 53   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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