Two O’Clock Courage is an early film noir from 1945 that isn’t as well-known as other films from the era, and probably deservedly so. So why should you watch this short noir? Two reasons I think film noir junkies should search this one out is:
- This is an early film of future directing great Anthony Mann
- This is the first credited role of femme fatale great Jane Greer, under the name Bettejane Greer here.
Two O’Clock Courage starts out with our hero, played by Tom Conway, on the side of a street with blood trickling from his head. He stumbles out into the street and almost gets hit by a taxi. The taxi driver is played by Ann Rutherford and decides to help our hero. Conway has amnesia and Rutherford wants to take him to the hospital. When it comes over the radio that a murder has been committed and the description of the main suspect happens to be Conway. Soon the two travel through town trying to solve who Conway real is and if he is innocent of the murder.
This film is very short and has a fair plot, probably pretty original for a film in 1945 and one of the first films noir to use the amnesia device, a device that would be used often in the following years. This film uses humor to great effect as well, it is not over the top and flows nicely with the dark story. The chemistry between Rutherford and Conway is very good with Rutherford being the source of most of the comedic moments. She really did well as with quick one liners throughout the film and you can see why Conway is attracted to her.
You can also see Anthony Mann does very well with an obvious small budget and B movie actors. It is interesting to watch this and see glimpses of a director who would go on to make some great films. We also see one of film noir fans favorite actresses, Jane Greer, in only her second film and her first credited role. It is a small part, but you can already see the femme fatale roots that would launch her into legendary statues only two years later in Out of the Past.
Is this film a forgotten gem somehow missed by film noir fans? Probably not. I did like the way it balanced comedy and the dark noir story line very well. This is a decent film and will entertain you for the little over the hour you are watching it. If you are a huge Greer or Mann fan, it is worth seeking out for a viewing.