A Life At Stake (1955) [DVD]

Barely acknowledged when it was first released in 1954, this low-budget noir has been pried out of obscurity in a new 4K transfer from the archival film elements.

“A Life at Stake” feels like a lite version of “Double Indemnity,” with a femme fatale in a dreary marriage luring a gullible man into a cockamamie insurance fraud scheme that turns fatal around the edges. The film is notable for giving Angela Lansbury a rare starring role after a decade in supporting parts. Unfortunately, Lansbury lacks the sex appeal needed to sell the role, and she is dismally assisted by Keith Andes as the man drawn into her deceptive scheme – he is confident when he shows off his shirtless chiseled torso and clueless when he is required to recite dialogue or feign emotion.

Jane Darwell, Douglas Dumbrille and Claudia Barrett (the distressed damsel lusted after by the lunar gorilla in the anti-classic “Robot Monster”) turn up in smaller roles. At 78 minutes, “A Life at Stake” is relatively quick to endure and is even quicker to forget.