Blind Alley (1939)

Hello fellow paranormal followers!

My name is Jeremy, and the head Ghosts have deemed me worthy to contribute to this grand ghostly site of comics and various forms of entertainment!

I’m a passionate Criterion Collection collector, definitely a cinephile as well as an audiophile. I like to be able to see and hear every little thing in the films I watch. I’m not a film snob, however, I enjoy popular films as much as the next guy. As a matter of fact, I just got “Jumanji: The Next Level” and “Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker” (I have not watched either yet, so please don’t spoil them!)




Outside of film, I’m a comic book collector, a big fan of LEGO, and a gamer. Both video games (PS4: zedd117), and board or Role Playing games. Currently I’m reading up on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Players Handbook and trying to find a group to either let me join, or a group of n00bs like me looking to start!

Lastly, I am also a professional photographer focusing mainly on landscapes and nature (though I do shoot the occasional event). That’s about all about me, so let’s dive into my first movie review here at the site.

I’ve recently (aka tonight) started diving into the Columbia Noir collection on The Criterion Channel. The Noir collection is a fairly recent addition to the Channel’s already stellar and diverse line-up. (Not a member yet? Give it a 14-day free trial at It was there that I found a pretty interesting little film entitled Blind Alley.


It, like many great noir films, starts out innocent enough. A professor of psychology, Dr. Shelby (played brilliantly by Ralph Bellamy), is teaching his final class before going away to his lake house for the weekend to gather with some friends. His star pupil, who is done with his class and moving on to the real world, Fred Landis (played by Stanley Brown), is a close family friend and is planning on stopping by Shelby’s home before leaving town.

We then move to Shelby’s lake front home in the middle of a party. Friends and colleagues are dancing, drinking, and catching up on current events. A casual mention of a gangster and murderer escaping the local prison and making a run for it. Hal Wilson (Chester Morris) is his name, he has the warden hostage and he’s on his way to the lake to make his escape.

As I’m sure you can see where this is going. Wilson crashes the party, along with a couple of his thugs and his gal Mary (Ann Dvorak). They make quick work of the party guests and the housemaids. Dividing them between the upstairs bedrooms and the basement, leaving Wilson, Mary, and the Shelby’s on the main floor. Wilson and his men are on the lookout for both the police from the road, and a man named Frank, who is supposedly arriving by boat to aid in Wilson’s escape. 


As the night wears on, Fred, the student, arrives. He quickly realizes that something is amiss when Dr. Shelby won’t allow Fred to go upstairs to say goodbye to the Shelby’s son, Davy. Fred goes toe-to-toe with one of the thugs before challenging Wilson to a gun-free round of fisticuffs. Wilson looks about to oblige him, when, BANG, Fred’s dead. 

This leads to Shelby and Wilson being left alone, which is when Shelby makes his move. He begins psychoanalysis on Wilson. Trying to uncover a deep dark secret that Wilson has buried into his subconscious. The two bond, becoming almost like a normal patient/doctor relationship. Shelby breaks down Wilson’s secret unconscious psychosis, thus breaking him as a murderer. 

While all this is going on, the police and FBI have surrounded the house, Frank and his boat nowhere to be seen. The criminals make their last stand, but Wilson is no longer able to kill due to a realization that he and Dr. Shelby made together. He’s gunned down almost as soon as he opens the door to go outside.


Director Charles Vidor crafted a masterful, concise story of crime, curiosity, murder, and madness. All in a neat little 69 minute masterpiece of film noir in 1939, that barely feels dated today, in 2020. Blind Alley is definitely a fun, fast-paced, film you should give a watch if/when you start your Criterion Channel subscription.

And with that, I hope you enjoyed this review, and I’m looking forward to my new life as a Ghost here in the Stratosphere. Make sure you continue to stop back as I’ll be watching and reviewing something else from the Criterion Collection again soon.  I’ll let your imaginations run wild possibilites given the thousands of titles in print and/or on The Criterion Channel.

The Criterion Channel Review | PCMag

Until then, feel free to connect with me through the comments here, or shoot me an email at:

Best wishes! Stay inside, stay safe, stay away from the ‘rona!

2 thoughts on “Blind Alley (1939)

  1. Hi Jeremy! This is a nice addition to one of my favorite websites. Thanks for the review of Blind Alley. I would describe myself as a cineast too, but never heard of this flic, so far. After reading your article, i surely will give it a watch. I am not a subscriber to the Criterion Channel (i wonder if it would work, from germany with all that geoblocking nowadays) – but i know Criterion via their stellar Blu Ray Releases. One can really depend on them there. The Transfers are so great – there is nothing similar out there (Just watched Stalker the other night and the picture was just so good – not ony if you compare it with the “old” standard Blu Ray Release – you just have to love these guys).

    Sadly, Blind Alley is not availabe in their Blu Ray Line Up yet (just checked), so i have to get a copy elsewhere… Will try! Thanks again for the tip – and i am looking forward to read more of the same spirit 😉

    1. Thanks Sunny! You may be able to find “Blind Alley” on Warner Bros. I’m not sure if you’ll find a Blu, but it might be on DVD. It’s a shame things aren’t available equally worldwide!

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