Tropic Sprockets / Undertow (1949)

By Ian Brockway

From fright-master William Castle (The Tingler) here is the film noir “Undertow” co-starring our beloved Peggy Dow. [Showing at the Tropic Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30pm as part of the weekend Peggy Dow Tribute.] The film is striking and suspenseful, boasting solid performances, a bit part by Rock Hudson, and a great wardrobe.

Tony (Scott Brady) has a chance reunion with and old friend, a casino manager Dan (John Russell). Tony is hoping to marry Sally (the striking Dorothy Hart) but he has a rival in casino owner Jim Lee.

While getting off a plane and talking to the attractive teacher Ann (Peggy Dow) the police approach Tony and tell him to stay away from Jim. 

He is mystified.

When Jim is murdered, Tony is suspect #1 and he is forced to hide in dark alleys and underground passageways.

Aside from the wholesome and buoyant Ann, no one is to be trusted. 

By revealing the slimy underside of a picture perfect town with its gleaming cars and manicured lawns, the film is a precursor to David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” in illustrating the soiled heart of a sparkling American town.

Dorothy Hart slinks about, cat-like and manipulative while Peggy Dow, airy and bright glides across the screen, a flashing cloud.

The dialogue is punchy, the clothes are stunning, and the shadows are slanted perfectly across the sidewalks.

“Undertow” is a solid example of William Castle as director and it makes for a snappy Peggy Dow feature.

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