Appointment with a Shadow (1958)

72-73 mins | Drama | November 1958

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was If I Should Die . According to a 3 Apr 1950 LAT news item, Paramount purchased a screenplay by Herb Dalmas based on Hugh Pentecost's Argosy story “If I Should Die." The article calls the picture "a natural for Bill Holden." Paramount never made the film, however, and on 26 Jul 1956 HR announced that Universal had hired Alec Coppel to write a screenplay based on Pentecost's story, with Van Heflin set to star. LAT then reported in Aug 1957 that Jeffrey Hunter would star, and the film began production on 22 Oct 1957. According to a 29 Oct 1957 HR item, Hunter was struck with a "serious illness" resulting from the flu which closed down production until early Nov 1957, when Universal announced George Nader as Hunter's replacement.
       Although Nov 1957 HR news items add the following members to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed: Craig Duncan, Cosmo Sardo, Chuck Howard, Tom McDonough, Rand Mitchell, Marty Mason and John ... More Less

The working title of this film was If I Should Die . According to a 3 Apr 1950 LAT news item, Paramount purchased a screenplay by Herb Dalmas based on Hugh Pentecost's Argosy story “If I Should Die." The article calls the picture "a natural for Bill Holden." Paramount never made the film, however, and on 26 Jul 1956 HR announced that Universal had hired Alec Coppel to write a screenplay based on Pentecost's story, with Van Heflin set to star. LAT then reported in Aug 1957 that Jeffrey Hunter would star, and the film began production on 22 Oct 1957. According to a 29 Oct 1957 HR item, Hunter was struck with a "serious illness" resulting from the flu which closed down production until early Nov 1957, when Universal announced George Nader as Hunter's replacement.
       Although Nov 1957 HR news items add the following members to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed: Craig Duncan, Cosmo Sardo, Chuck Howard, Tom McDonough, Rand Mitchell, Marty Mason and John Phillips. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Sep 1958.
---
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1950.
---
Daily Variety
22 Nov 1957.
---
Daily Variety
2 Sep 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 Sep 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1957
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1957
p. 6, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 58
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
3 Apr 1950.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Aug 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Sep 58
p. 967.
New York Times
8 Jan 59
p. 24.
Variety
3 Sep 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Ward
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Dial coach
Unit pub
Coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "If I Should Die" by Hugh Pentecost in Argosy (Oct 1949).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
If I Should Die
Release Date:
November 1958
Production Date:
22 October--29 October 1957
mid November 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
1 October 1958
Copyright Number:
LP12614
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
72-73
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18882
SYNOPSIS

After reporter Paul Baxter passes out drunk in Pat O’Connell’s bar, Lt. “Spence” Spencer escorts him to the apartment of Paul’s girl friend Penny, who is Spence’s sister. Because Paul’s alcoholism has cost him job after job, Spence now counsels Penny to give up on him, but she vows to give Paul one more chance. To this end, when Paul revives the next morning, Penny informs him that if he can stay sober all day, she will provide him with an exclusive story that will revitalize his career. Paul, suffering from the DTs, tries to dissuade Penny’s faith in him by describing in bitter detail the fears that drive an alcoholic: fear of inadequacy, of death and of sobering up the next day. Finally, he breaks down and holds her, allowing her to persuade him to attempt just one day of sobriety to prove his love and save himself. Penny then informs Paul that Spence has a lead on the whereabouts of infamous killer Dutch Hayden, who has been in hiding for years. Hayden’s stripper girl friend, Florence Knapp, has informed Spence that Hayden has undergone extensive plastic surgery and will be at Carter’s Restaurant with her that evening. Penny instructs Paul to read the background file on Hayden and then show up at Carter’s in order to scoop the story of Hayden's arrest. Paul begs her to stay and help him resist alcohol for the day, but Penny insists that Paul overcome his addiction alone. Soon desperate for a drink, Paul makes a schedule for the day and tries, but fails, to eat breakfast. After managing to read Hayden’s file, he can prepare a research report only by ... +


After reporter Paul Baxter passes out drunk in Pat O’Connell’s bar, Lt. “Spence” Spencer escorts him to the apartment of Paul’s girl friend Penny, who is Spence’s sister. Because Paul’s alcoholism has cost him job after job, Spence now counsels Penny to give up on him, but she vows to give Paul one more chance. To this end, when Paul revives the next morning, Penny informs him that if he can stay sober all day, she will provide him with an exclusive story that will revitalize his career. Paul, suffering from the DTs, tries to dissuade Penny’s faith in him by describing in bitter detail the fears that drive an alcoholic: fear of inadequacy, of death and of sobering up the next day. Finally, he breaks down and holds her, allowing her to persuade him to attempt just one day of sobriety to prove his love and save himself. Penny then informs Paul that Spence has a lead on the whereabouts of infamous killer Dutch Hayden, who has been in hiding for years. Hayden’s stripper girl friend, Florence Knapp, has informed Spence that Hayden has undergone extensive plastic surgery and will be at Carter’s Restaurant with her that evening. Penny instructs Paul to read the background file on Hayden and then show up at Carter’s in order to scoop the story of Hayden's arrest. Paul begs her to stay and help him resist alcohol for the day, but Penny insists that Paul overcome his addiction alone. Soon desperate for a drink, Paul makes a schedule for the day and tries, but fails, to eat breakfast. After managing to read Hayden’s file, he can prepare a research report only by placing a Scotch bottle in full view on the desk. When he is unable to resist the Scotch, he pours it down the sink and tries to sleep. Small noises jolt him awake and, realizing only five hours have passed, he gives up and goes to O’Connell’s. After he leaves, Penny calls Paul to inform him that Hayden’s capture has been set for 7:00, but when there is no answer, she calls O’Connell’s and finds him there. His shaking hands have thus far prevented him from drinking, and bolstered by Penny’s voice on the phone, he returns to her apartment without a drink. There, he sleeps until the meeting time, after which he goes to a brownstone near Carter’s in order to hide on the roof. On the way up the stairs, a quarrelling wife hurls a liquor bottle at her husband, dousing Paul’s jacket with whiskey. Paul heads to the roof and watches as Spence and his men surround Hayden and, when he reaches for his gun, shoot him down. As Paul turns to leave, he bumps into a man on the roof and, recognizing Hayden's face from Penny’s file, realizes that Hayden never underwent plastic surgery and that the killing has been a set-up. Followed by Hayden, Paul races to the policeman on the street, but as Spence has already left and Paul reeks of whiskey, no one believes his story. Paul then goes to O’Connell's, and when he is unable to reach Spence and Penny, leaves them the phone number of the bar. Spotting Hayden waiting outside, Paul sneaks out through the back door. Hayden pretends to be a cab driver in order to ask O’Connell about Paul, but O’Connell lies that he does not know Paul, and Hayden then informs Flo that he must kill Paul before they carry out their plan to leave town. Paul races to Penny’s and finds Penny and Spence waiting there. Having seen the empty bottles and the bar’s phone number, they assume he is drunk and raving. Furious, Paul then tries to sell the story to his old newspaper editor, who also refuses to believe him. With no help in sight, Paul resolves to solve the case himself. After changing into clean clothes, he heads to Flo’s dance club and, hoping to trap Hayden, demands that the fugitive bring him $5,000 at 2:00 a.m. Flo then asks around about Paul and, discovering his alcoholism, informs Hayden that Paul cannot convince anyone of his story. Soon after, Penny finds a note from Paul explaining that he will have the real Hayden in his apartment at 2:00, and urges Spence to accompany her to Paul’s. His apartment is empty, however, because Flo forced Paul at gunpoint to drive with her to Hayden’s apartment, in the brownstone across from Carter’s. There, Hayden confesses that he set up his brother to be killed in his place and that he now plans to throw Paul off the roof. Paul tells Hayden he will be hard to kill, as he finally has something to live for: a future without alcohol. Hayden forces Paul onto the roof, but Paul breaks free, seizes the weapon and wounds Hayden, whom he then leads at gunpoint back to the apartment. He calls Spence’s partner and, sure of himself for the first time, demands that Spence be notified. Soon, Spence and his men arrive to arrest Hayden, and Penny falls into Paul’s arms. When Penny apologizes for losing her faith in him, Paul informs her that she merely lent her faith to him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.