Release Date: November 21st, 1944
Directed by: Andre De Toth
Written by: Marian B. Cockrell, Joan Harrison, Arthur Horman
Based on: The Saturday Evening Post serial Dark Waters by Francis M. Cockrell, Marian B. Cockrell
Music by: Miklós Rózsa
Cast: Merle Oberon, Franchot Tone, Thomas Mitchell, Fay Bainter, Elisha Cook Jr.
Benedict Bogeaus Productions, United Artists, 90 Minutes
Dark Waters is a film that feels like it could have been touched by Val Lewton while he was producing a slew of B-movies over at RKO but this was put out by United Artists around the same time and falls below the quality of those great Lewton pictures. Still, if you like Lewton’s work at RKO, this has a similar tone and feel to it, which is why I decided to watch it after I stumbled upon it.
A woman survives a submarine attack and returns home to the bayous of Louisiana to recuperate. Her aunt and uncle are up to something strange though and thus, we get a story about gangsters in the swamp. It sounds intriguing but the film is fairly boring, at least until the finale, which is decent.
Growing up in Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast and living in a very similar environment to the bayous of Louisiana, I have always felt a piece of home in pictures that take place there. Plus I had family around New Orleans, when I was a kid, and have always loved spending time there. So when something takes place in the bayou, I feel a sense of real familiarity, just like when something takes place in the Everglades.
The environment, while it looks good on film here, isn’t enough to carry the picture. Everything falls pretty flat and it doesn’t matter that the accomplished Andre De Toth is behind the camera or that the majestic melodies of Miklós Rózsa created a very good soundtrack.
Dark Waters isn’t a total waste of time, it’s an okay way to kill ninety minutes but then again, there are much better movies you could watch instead, especially in the noir style.