Somewhere in the Night is an early Joseph Mankiewicz film noir with amnesia at its center. George Taylor, an injured ex-Marine played monochromatically by John Hodiak, returns from the South Pacific not knowing who he is are what he was -- except that he has a clue that he was on the shady side of the law. There's an involuted, convoluted and confusing plot that pushes all the noirish buttons: a chanteuse with a heart of gold and also a dame who's nothing but trouble, a missing briefcase stuffed with 2 million bucks, a funny farm where a witness to murder is imprisoned, a cynical police lieutenant, and even a polysyllabic European gangster who derives from both Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Everything is recycled, and so is the amnesia. George Taylor might just as well have been a returning veteran with a perfect memory, or been a gumshoe, or a shamus and the film would have been just as good (or just as bad). It's surprising that when the money is recovered and the villains are punished, George gets the girl but, contrary to precedent, doesn't recover his memory. The film simply forgets his affliction and leaves him hanging. Perhaps it's romantic -- after all, if you win the love of the lady, what does memory matter? Or perhaps the amnesia is so trivial, so perfunctory, so much a gimmick, that it can be shunted aside.
Although not a good flim, it's partially redeemed by Richard Conte's turn as a smarmy nightclub owner, Sheldon Leonard's two minutes as a dumb cuckold, and Harry Morgan's thirty seconds as a bath attendant. Those guys are genuine pros.