Impact (1949) Brian Donlevy Ella Raines
Impact is a 1949 American film noir drama film directed by Arthur Lubin, starring Brian Donlevy and Ella Raines. Filmed entirely in California, the film included scenes filmed in Sausalito, and at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and other locations around the city. Impact was based on a story by film noir writer Jay Dratler. The supporting cast features Charles Coburn, Helen Walker, Anna May Wong, Philip Ahn and William Wright.
Arthur Lubin signed to direct in June 1948. Harry Popkin raised the budget of $900,000. Filming began in San Francisco on September 14. The “Bayview Apartments” – the site of the Williams’ Nob Hill penthouse – in actuality is Weeks and Day’s historic Brocklebank Apartments at 1000 Mason Street in San Francisco. The actual town of Larkspur, California was used for filming the fictional town of Larkspur, Idaho. Several areas in and around Larkspur can be seen, including the Probert family’s home and gas station at 234 and 238 Magnolia Avenue, the location that was recently occupied by The Tavern at Lark Creek.
This was Anna May Wong’s first screen appearance since 1942. Character actor Tom Greenway made his first appearance on screen as an unnamed moving van driver. Gossip reporter Sheilah Graham appears as herself, reading a news item about the case on the radio.
Brian Donlevy as Walter Williams
Ella Raines as Marsha Peters
Charles Coburn as Lt. Tom Quincy
Helen Walker as Irene Williams
Anna May Wong as Su Lin Chung
Robert Warwick as Capt. Callahan
Clarence Kolb as Darcy
Art Baker as Eldredge – Defense Attorney
William Wright as Prosecutor
Mae Marsh as Mrs. King (as Mrs. Peters)
Sheilah Graham as herself
Tom Greenway as Moving Van Driver
The San Francisco-based millionaire industrialist Walter Williams (Brian Donlevy) has a young wife, Irene (Helen Walker), who is trying to kill him with the help of her young lover, Jim Torrence (Tony Barrett). After Walter and Irene make plans to drive to Lake Tahoe, Irene feigns illness and asks Walter to instead give Torrence, who is pretending to be Irene’s “cousin” from Illinois, a lift to Denver, allowing Torrence a chance to murder Walter en route.
The plan falls apart when Williams survives a hit on the head from the would-be killer. Attempting to flee the scene in Williams’ Packard convertible, Torrence dies in a fiery head-on collision with a gasoline tanker truck. The body of Torrence is mistakenly identified as Williams. In the meantime, Irene has made reservations at a hotel in Oakland for her and her boyfriend to meet afterward, under the assumed names of “Mr. & Mrs. Jack Burns”.
The wounded, dazed Williams falls asleep in the back of a moving van and ends up in the small town of Larkspur, Idaho. Using the name “Bill Walker”, he gets a job as a service station mechanic and falls in love with Marsha Peters (Ella Raines), a young widow who is the station’s owner. Meanwhile, the police arrest Williams’ wife for his “murder”.
Williams eventually tells Marsha the truth, and she persuades him to go back to clear his wife, but when he does he is charged with murdering Torrence. Marsha enlists the help of kindly police detective Quincy (Charles Coburn) to prove Walter’s innocence. With the additional evidence of the housekeeper Su Lin (Anna May Wong) the key and hotel registration are found and Walter is freed. His wife is then held for conspiracy to murder.