The Web (1947)
“The Web” is both an archetypal and atypical film noir.
It’s got the usual murder plots, double-crosses, steam-filled streets, hard-nosed cops and other crucial criteria of mid-century American crime stories. Director Michael Gordon and cinematographer Irving Glassberg shoot with a lot of canted angles and an abundance of shadows to make the audience feel uncertain of their bearing.
But the main character, Bob Regan (Edmund O’Brien), is not your usual hard-boiled detective type or innocent patsy. He’s a moon-faced attorney who is one step up from ambulance-chaser, employing a lot of self-deprecating jokes to cover up a lack of self-esteem. Vincent Price plays the heavy, a wealthy industrialist named Andrew Colby, who is so smooth and effeminate that when he walks, he practically glides across the screen.
The set-up is that Colby, impressed with Regan for bursting into his boardroom in pursuit of some $68 in damages to his client’s fruit cart, hires him to be his personal bodyguard. When an old associate who has just been released from jail for embezzling seemingly breaks in to murder Colby, Regan shoots him dead. Momentarily a hero, he begins to suspect a setup and starts to snoop deeper into the matter with the help of Noel Farady (Ella Raines), Colby’s secretary and sort-of girlfriend.
It’s now out in a very handsome Blu-ray edition courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics that’s well with checking out.