Dead Reckoning

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Back in ancient times (1972), Woody Allen made funny movies. I enjoyed Play It Again, Sam, in which an illusory Humphrey Bogart provides real-time romantic advice to Allen's character.

Well, actually not Bogart; it's the character Bogie played in numerous movies: hard-boiled, cynical, self-assured, and a chick magnet. At one point, Bogie seeks to calm Allen's date-night jitters: "Relax. You're as nervous as Lizabeth Scott was before I blew her brains out."

Well, trivia fans: this is the only movie Bogart made with Lizabeth Scott. And (spoiler alert) he does not blow her brains out.

Also, Bogie never (quite) said "Play it again, Sam" in Casablanca.

So don't put Woody Allen on your team for movie trivia night.

But this movie: Bogart's character, 'Rip' Murdock, is returning from WWII to America with his Army buddy Johnny. When Rip reveals that they're headed to Washington, where Johnny is to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, Johnny inexplicably takes a powder, hopping a train to WhoKnowsWhereVille.

Rip is nonplussed by Johnny's behavior, and resolves to find out what's going on with his buddy. He tracks Johnny to Gulf City, a sin-filled Southern town. Unfortunately, what he finds is a corpse in the morgue, burned beyond recognition. A little research in a newspaper archive finds the problem: before he signed up with the Army, Johnny was a murder suspect. The victim was a rich guy, and testifying against Johnny was the rich guy's wife… ah, there she is, Lizabeth Scott! And a little further investigation shows that she's somehow tied up with local racketeer Martinelli.

So who killed the rich guy? And who killed Johnny? And … hey … who killed the bartender whose corpse has been planted in Murdock's hotel room?

It's a complex plot, all right. I think it gets straightened out in the end. Lizabeth doesn't get her brains blown out, but something else bad happens.