While his wife is away he sees a girl in a bar. She’s the kind of girl a man would notice anyway but her slightly odd behaviour intrigues him. Two men seem to be taking a great interest in her. Later that night he passes a car broken down by the side of the road. The driver is the same girl. He can’t get her car started and it’s pouring with rain so he takes her back to his place so he can arrange to have her car towed to a garage. At the garage the two men turn up and tell him that they’re police officers.
Alan Curtis is a very ordinary sort of guy, honest and respectable and happily married. He’s not the sort of man who has adventures with strange women, but of course when the strange woman is young and beautiful then any man can become that sort of man. And his motivations are honourable. He’s just trying to help a very charming young lady. What kind of man would refuse to help a lady in that situation?
The fact that Curtis is such a very ordinary guy who slowly gets drawn into a web of danger and deceit gives this movie a slight film noir flavour. This is strengthened by the character of Lila, who could very well turn out to be a femme fatale.
It’s also film noirish in the sense that Curtis is not entirely blameless. He behaves foolishly. Getting involved with a woman who has the police on her trail is not smart but he does it anyway. He knows that it would be a seriously bad idea to sleep with Lila but he sleeps with her anyway. His judgment is poor. Lila is clearly bad news but she’s exciting and sexy.
This movie was produced by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman for their company Tempean Films which did a lot of interesting B-movies in the 50s. In the 60s Baker and Berman went on to much greater success in television as producers of The Saint.
American director Cy Endfield had relocated to Britain after falling afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee. His most interesting British movie was Hell Drivers although his biggest hit was Zulu.
Impulse is included in the Renown Pictures Crime Collection Volume 2 DVD boxed set (a good value set which includes ten feature films). The transfer is very good.
Impulse is a fine well-crafted B-movie mystery with very strong hints of noir and just enough character complexity and ambiguity to keep things interesting. It’s thoroughly enjoyable. An unfairly overlooked movie. Highly recommended.