Quicksand review by Jackass Tom

Once again, I’m bargain bin diving and once again I’m looking at the film noir three for one combo (just $5). It’s addicting. No matter how many times I come up short, I keep going back for more; the investment is minimal so what do I have to lose? In this case the little number I picked was Quicksand which grabbed my attention because it had Mickey Rooney in the main role. It’s odd to think of him playing in a film being labeled as noir because Rooney seemed to always play the ideal smiley faced kid in a number of movies including the Andy Hardy series. But I’m game for something new and different…

Dan Brady (Mickey Rooney) is a mechanic who is short on money, but hot on this new blonde waitress, Vera Novak (Jeanne Cagney). In order to make his date swing, he makes a decision to lift $20 off his register, with full intentions of paying it back by the end of the week. His date, the blonde, has danger written all over her. You can tell early on when she sees a new mink coat in a department store window and says in a foreboding voice, “I’m gonna get that coat” and will do “what ever it takes to get it.” Yeah, she’s bad news Mick. Her shady past is further revealed when she has a run in with Nick Dramoshag (Peter Lorre) the owner of a penny arcade. If you find your girl is involved somehow with Peter Lorre, it should be a sign to leave her by the curbside.

The $20 comes to back haunt him, as the collector comes two days early to check the register. Danny figures out a way to get some instant cash to pay it off, but that only puts him further in debt. But of course, getting that $20, wasn’t exactly honest either, so he needs to find away to cover that loss as well. And so on… Each scheme to pay off his incrementing debts spirals out of control, as do the crimes he commits to get the money. Like the title implies, the more he squirms to pay off his debts, the more he sinks in the quicksand. Thievery, robbery and blackmail… And it all started with stealing a Jackson. Man crime must have been contagious in the 50s.

Quicksand has a slight-film noir feel in story as Danny is just an average guy who makes a bad decision and gets himself in to more and more trouble over a femme noire. Unfortunately it is low on style. There are shadows and dark alleys that you would expect in film noir, but it never feels like anything special. It also has the feel of one of those “Anti-{pick an issue} / Scared Straight” movies like Reefer Madness that shows the worst possible scenario a guy could find himself in if he makes one wrong move. In this case, the issue is petty thievery and spending money past your means. The guy lifts a few bucks off the register where he works and pretty soon he is running from the law for every heinous crime short of selling pictures of boys over the internet. At times the means of pushing the story forward seem to be so obsurd that they ruin the story itself.

Its odd seeing Mickey Rooney play such a dark role after seeing him play the light hearted Andy Hardy. There is definitely no singing and no Judy Garland. He is definitely not as “at home” with the role as Peter Lorre seems to be but actually does end up decent job with the part so don’t be turned off by him. The movie itself is just sort of ‘blah’ though and that’s probably due to lack of noir style. At times it seems a little “after-school-special-ish,” as it beats you over the head with how terrible lifting a few bills off the register can be. All I can say is it has the feel of an average B-moive.

3 out of 10 Jackasses
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