Man in the Dark

For the 2008 novel by Paul Auster, see Man in the Dark (novel). For the 1963 British film, see Blind Corner.
Man in the Dark

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lew Landers
Produced by Wallace MacDonald
Screenplay by George Bricker
Jack Leonard
William Sackheim
Story by Tom Van Dycke
Henry Altimus
Starring Edmond O'Brien
Audrey Totter
Ted de Corsia
Cinematography Floyd Crosby
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • April 8, 1953 (1953-04-08) (premiere, New York City)
  • April 9, 1953 (1953-04-09) (US general release)
Running time
70 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.45 million (US)[1]

Man in the Dark is a 1953 film noir drama 3-D film directed by Lew Landers and starring Edmond O'Brien, Audrey Totter and Ted de Corsia.[2] It is a remake of the 1936 Ralph Bellamy film The Man Who Lived Twice.[3]

It was the first Columbia Pictures film released in 3-D.


Steve Rawley is serving a 10-year prison sentence from a Christmas Eve factory robbery that netted $130,000. He is offered an immediate parole if willing to undergo an experimental procedure by Dr. Marsden, a brain surgeon.

Steve is released, but the operation leaves him with amnesia. He takes another name and believes he lost his memory in a car crash. An insurance investigator, Jawald, trying to find the missing robbery money, is convinced Steve is faking.

Lefty, Arnie and Cookie, members of his old gang, kidnap Steve and demand to know where the loot is. Steve claims not to know or recognize any of them or Peg, who is said to be his girlfriend. Steve tries to phone for help but is beaten by his captors.

Peg begins to believe he is telling the truth about the amnesia. She flees with Steve to an amusement park, a place that Steve keeps seeing in his dreams. He finds a box containing the money. Atop a roller coaster, he fights Lefty, who falls to his death. Arnie is shot by police, who have been summoned by Jawald. By handing over the box of money, Steve hopes that he and Peg will be able to be together and live a normal life.



The unexpected success of the previous year's Bwana Devil in 3-D sparked other studios to release their own 3-D films. Columbia Pictures rushed a current project into production and completed it in 11 days. Although Warner Brothers touted House of Wax as "the first feature produced by a major studio in 3-D", Man in the Dark actually premiered two days earlier.[4]

The amusement park setting was filmed at Ocean Park in Santa Monica.


Critical response

When the film was released, Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, panned the film. He wrote, "Columbia's first stereoscopic film—a conspicuously low-grade melodrama ... called Man in the Dark, ... must be viewed through polaroid glasses to be seen for any effect whatsoever, is a thoroughly unspectacular affair."[5]

More recently, critic Elliott Stein, writing for The Village Voice, discussed the effects used in the film: "This seems to be the 3-D flick that most exploits the short-lived medium. An endless array of stuff comes whiffling at your face—a lit cigar, a repulsive spider, scissors, forceps, fists, falling bodies, and a roller coaster. The prolific Landers may not have been a great director, but he was a pretty good pitcher."[6]


  1. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954.
  2. Man in the Dark at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. Man in the Dark at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  4. House of Wax. IMDb. Released: April 10, 1953. Accessed: July 21, 2013.
  5. Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, April 9, 1953. Accessed: July 21, 2013.
  6. Stein, Elliot. The Village Voice, film review, "Coming right at you: The gimmick that would not die", February 24 2004. Accessed: July 21, 2013.
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