Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott face a “Dead Reckoning”

Dead Reckoning (1947) is an American film noir directed by John Cromwell and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott.

Bogart plays Capt. Warren “Rip” Murdock who is trying to unlock the mystery surrounding the disappearance and death of his WW II buddy Sergeant Johnny Drake. During his search he meets Drake’s girlfriend Coral (Scott). During his search, Rip falls in love with Coral but is she worthy of his trust.

Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott

John Cromwell (1886 – 1979) was an American film and stage director. Cromwell started his career as an actor on the stage and in the early days of talking pictures. He was under contract to Paramount where he directed many pre-Code films. Some of the stars he directed during this time included Kay Francis, William Powell, and Jean Arthur. In 1933, he moved to RKO and directed Irene Dunne in Ann Vickers (1933), Spitfire (1934) with Katharine Hepburn, and Of Human Bondage (1934) with Leslie Howard and Bette Davis. Of Human Bondage was a tremendous box office success and made Cromwell a top director in Hollywood. Other films he directed include Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Since You Went Away (1944), Anna and the Kind of Siam (1946), and Dead Reckoning. He is the father of actor James Cromwell.

Lizabeth Scott (1922 – 2015) was an American actress dubbed “The Threat” because she had a similar husky voice and screen persona as Lauren Bacall. Scott was understudy to Tallulah Bankhead in The Skin of Our Teeth but never got the opportunity to replace Bankhead’s run of the play. When Bankhead was replaced by Miriam Hopkins, Scott did go on for one night and received good reviews. It wasn’t long for Hollywood to take notice and producer Wallis signed her to a contract. She made her film debut as Ivy Hotchkiss in You Came Along (1945) with Robert Cummings. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) was Scott’s second feature. She went on to star in Dead Reckoning (1947) with Humphrey Bogart, I Walk Alone (1947) with Burt Lancaster, and Dark City (1950) with Charlton Heston in his film debut. She had a falling out with producer Wallis after starring in Loving You (1957) with Elvis Presley and another Wallis contract player, Wendell Corey. She basically retired from film after Loving You but appeared on television sporadically during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dead Reckoning trivia

  • Rita Hayworth was the original choice to play Coral but she was committed to The Lady from Shanghai with her estranged husband, Orson Welles.
  • Lizabeth Scott was on loan from Paramount to play Coral and Bogart was on loan from Warner Bros. to play Rip.
  • Bogart was miffed about the terms of his loan out from Warner Bros. because Columbia paid Warner Bros. more than his salary.
  • Coral’s car is a 1941 Lincoln Continental convertible. Only 400 were made.
  • Lizabeth Scott was billed as “The Threat.” Lauren Bacall was tagged as “The Look” and Scott was often compared to Bacall.
  • Lauren Bacall supposedly thought Scott did a good job in the picture.


Click HERE to join the discussion on May 6, 2024, 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and a link to join the discussion on Zoom.

Click HERE to watch the film on YouTube.

Discussion questions

  1. Does this film fit all the film noir tropes?
  2. What did you think of the pairing of Bogart and Scott?
  3. Like many film noirs, the plot has many twists and turns. Were you able to follow it?
  4. What did you think of the film’s production? Does it fit your idea of a “film noir style?”
  5. Do you think the film would have been different had Rita Hayworth played Cora?

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