BAD FOR EACH OTHER. Columbia Pictures, 1953. Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Dianne Foster, Mildred Dunnock, Arthur Franz, Ray Collins, Marjorie Rambeau, Lester Matthews, Rhys Williams. Screenplay: Irving Wallace & Horace McCoy. Director: Irving Rapper.

   This movie is available on DVD in a set of four films billed as Bad Girls of Film Noir, Volume 1. While I’ll name them below, I won’t comment at length on the other three, but to be blunt about it, Bad for Each Other is the kind of film that gives noir a bad name.

   Don’t blame the movie. It is what it is, a black-and-white doctor drama that when it was made had no intention of being related to any of the host of crime films, spy dramas, gangster movies, mystery thrillers, and even the occasional historical mini-epic from the late 40 and 50s that are all lumped together in the guise of being noir. Some are. Most aren’t. “Noir” is now often little more than a marketing device.

   There isn’t even a crime in this one, only the moral dilemma some members of the medical profession (Dr. Tom Owen, for example, as portrayed by Charlton Heston) must face: be idealist and work for pennies on the dollar that society doctors can make, catering to rich women with minor aches and pains, or be one of the latter and rake in the big bucks.

   Lip service is paid to the idea that Dr. Owen needs the money to be able to contend for the hand of one of the idle rich, Helen Curtis (cool husky-voiced Lizabeth Scott), twice divorced and the daughter of the wealthy owner of the mine back in Owen’s hometown of Coalville, PA, but the good doctor seems all too willing to be seduced by money instead and the easy way to get it. That Mrs. Curtis is only a trophy to be gained along the way seems all too clear, even at the sacrifice of his own reputation. (He has to cover anonymously for the head of his practice when the latter confesses that he can no longer do surgical procedures.)

   There are a couple of interesting plot lines that go nowhere. The story that remains is as limp as yesterday’s lettuce. Well-known hardboiled author Horace McCoy ought to have been embarrassed for putting his name on this one.

   Other films in this set are The Killer That Stalked New York (1950), Two of a Kind (1951 and reviewed here) and The Glass Wall) (1953). Two of a Kind starts out in fine fashion, but in my opinion fades badly. Comments on any of these most welcome.