Union Station (1950)

Directed by Rudolph Mate
Written by Sydney Boehm

As I was sitting there, enjoying yet another installment in the month long “Noir-vember”, getting cozy with the likes of William Holden and Barry Fitzgerald, it dawned on me. I think noir has finally clicked for me in a way. I have always liked the genre, always found enjoyment in pretty much every film I have seen, but there is a certain level, or threshold, that is rarely breached by these films to bring them into Top 100 range for me. They are solid entertainment and I love watching them, but I don’t know if I have been able to say, on the whole, that I loved watching any single one in particular. The Naked City has come the closest this year. With Union Station, the streak continues, but I said it finally did click. I think noir is my comfort food.

We all have comfort food. I wouldn’t quite call it guilty pleasure, that is something else entirely. When in doubt, I have developed the confidence that I could sit down and escape in a single noir and be contented, happy with my choice to spend about 90 minutes caught up in a suspenseful crime thriller. So with Union Station I get the same steady eddy noir I’ve been getting used to this month. A girl gets kidnapped and her concerned friend teams up with the handsome station cop to solve the mystery. It’s the perfect format for an escape. Like an extended crime drama on television, only better because we get the beauty of the black and white photography, the excellence of actors like Holden and Fitzgerald, and characters we get to spend a little bit more time with.

I also love how the same faces keep popping up all over the place. I have seen William Holden in Sunset Blvd. (one of those noirs that does happen to crack the Top 100) and this is the second straight film I have seen Barry Fitzgerald in. Tracking the actors through these films really gives you an appreciation of their craft. Typecast? Perhaps, but when they do it as well as they do I can’t really blame them, Edward G. Robinson is another of those names, though he doesn’t appear here, I know I am expecting to see a few more with him before the month is out. The film has enough intrigue, enough suspense, enough heft to entertain for the 90 minutes. No, it doesn’t go into that stratosphere, but I can think of many many things that would be worse than sitting down for a little noir for the night.

**1/2 – Good

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