Dark City (1950 film)

Dark City is a 1950 American film noir crime film produced by Hal B. Wallis, directed by William Dieterle, and starring Charlton Heston in his Hollywood debut. The cast also features Lizabeth Scott, Viveca Lindfors, Dean Jagger, Don DeFore, Ed Begley, Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. Webb and Morgan both went on to co-star in the popular police drama television series Dragnet.[1] This was Heston's first appearance in a professional film production, following his participation in David Bradley's amateur Peer Gynt (1941) and semi-professional Julius Caesar (1950). In later interviews, he would refer to Dark City as "definitely not an 'A' picture, but a pretty good 'B'."

Dark City
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Dieterle
Produced byHal B. Wallis
Screenplay byJohn Meredyth Lucas
Larry Marcus
Based onthe story "No Escape"
by Larry Marcus
StarringCharlton Heston
Lizabeth Scott
Viveca Lindfors
Dean Jagger
Don DeFore
Music byFranz Waxman
CinematographyVictor Milner
Edited byWarren Low
Hal Wallis Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • October 17, 1950 (1950-10-17) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States


A group of hustlers take a man for $5000 in a poker game. When the man ends up killing himself, the heat is put on the gamblers in the game. The dead man's vengeful brother begins picking off the gamblers one by one.


Production notes

The working title of this film was No Escape. The production dates were from April 5 to May 12, 1950. Additional scenes and retakes were from May 9 to May 11, 1950. The production scenes were shot at the following Los Angeles locations: Griffith Observatory, Union Station, North Hollywood, an amusement pier in Ocean Park, the Wilshire Plaza Hotel and the Valley Vista Motel on Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley, California. In addition, background shots were filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada and Chicago, Illinois.[2]


Critical response

When the film was released, film critic for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther, applauded the work of newcomer Charlton Heston but panned the film, writing:

A new star named Charlton Heston — a tall, tweedy, rough-hewn sort of chap who looks like a triple-threat halfback on a midwestern college football team—is given an unfortunate send-off on the low and lurid level of crime in Hal Wallis' thriller, Dark City, which came to the Paramount yesterday. Apparently Mr. Heston, who has worked for the stage and video, has something more than appearance to recommend him to dramatic roles. He has a quiet but assertive magnetism, a youthful dignity and a plainly potential sense of timing that is the good actor's sine qua non. But in this 'clutching hand' chiller, he is called upon to play nothing more complex or demanding than a crooked gambler marked for doom.[3]

In 2004, film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review, writing:

Veteran director William Dieterle (The Devil and Daniel Webster) has been dealt a bad hand by the weak script, but the talented cast play out the hand as best they could ... The dark mood is set by Victor Milner's excellent B&W photography. Heston's finely tuned nuanced performance, as a guy gone bad but who can be saved by love, gives the melodrama enough film noir qualities to get over but not enough to relieve it of its tedium.[4]


  1. Dark City at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. IMDb, locations section. Accessed: August 3, 2013.
  3. Crowther, Bosley (October 19, 1950). "Charlton Heston Makes His Film Debut in Dark City, Feature at the Paramount Theatre". The New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  4. Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, November 9, 2004. Accessed: July 10, 2013.
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