The Black Curtain is your personal ticket to Hell, stamped by Cornell Woolrich. Frank Townsend suffers a minor injury on a tawdry city street. He goes home and finds his wife gone, and his life turned upside-down. His apartment looks unfamiliar to him, he recognizes nothing and no one. Worse still, he’s accused of murder and is being followed by mysterious strangers for no apparent reason. Frank is plunging into a black pool of amnesia.
His past is now a mere blur. His quest seems almost impossible: he must regain his identity, clear his name, and pick up the threads of his former life. There’s no avenging angel to assist him. He’s forced to save his own skin, in his own way. He’ll walk a torturous, uncertain path.
In The Black Curtain, Woolrich toys not only with fate, but our own inner demons. Who are we, really? What secrets are we concealing? Will a terrifying past suddenly creep up and strangle us? Woolrich also keeps us guessing about Frank Townsend. Who was he before his injury? Is he truly innocent of the murder rap pinned on him?
This dark study in desperation was well-adapted for the underrated 1942 film noir Street of Chance, featuring Burgess Meredith and veteran femme fatale Claire Trevor in fine form.
With The Black Curtain, Cornell Woolrich takes our tranquil world and turns it inside-out. Familiarity becomes fatal. Happiness and comfort are fragile and elusive. Buckle up and take a ride into darkness.
Release Date: October 3, 1942
Release Time: 74 minutes
Burgess Meredith as Frank Thompson
Claire Trevor as Ruth Dillon
Louise Platt as Virginia Thompson
Sheldon Leonard as Joe Marucci
Frieda Inescort as Alma Diedrich
Jerome Cowan as Bill Diedrich
Adeline De Walt Reynolds as Grandma Diedrich
Arthur Loft as Sheriff Lew Stebbins
Clancy Cooper as Burke
Paul Phillips as Schoeder
Keith Richards as Intern
Ann Doran as Miss Peabody
Cliff Clark as Ryan, (Policeman)
Edwin Maxwell as Stillwell, D.A.
Cornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s finest writer of pure suspense fiction. The author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many of which were turned into classic films) such as Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Waltz Into Darkness, and I Married a Dead Man, Woolrich began his career in the 1920s writing mainstream novels that won him comparisons to F. Scott Fitzgerald. The bulk of his best-known work, however, was written in the field of crime fiction, often appearing serialized in pulp magazines or as paperback novels. Because he was prolific, he found it necessary to publish under multiple pseudonyms, including "William Irish" and "George Hopley" [...] Woolrich lived a life as dark and emotionally tortured as any of his unfortunate characters and died, alone, in a seedy Manhattan hotel room following the amputation of a gangrenous leg. Upon his death, he left a bequest of one million dollars to Columbia University, to fund a scholarship for young writers.