Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Guilty Bystander

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
5.8/101 Votes Alchetron
1 Ratings
Rate This

Rate This

5.7/10 Letterboxd

Genre  Film-Noir, Drama
Language  English
6/10 IMDb

Director  Joseph Lerner
Music director  Dimitri Tiomkin
Country  United States
Guilty Bystander movie poster
Release date  April 20, 1950 (1950-04-20) (New York City)
Based on  the novel  by Wade Miller Robert Allison Wade
Writer  Don Ettlinger, H. William Miller (novel), Robert Allison Wade (novel)
Cast  Zachary Scott (Max Thursday), Faye Emerson (Georgia), Mary Boland (Smitty), Sam Levene (Captain Tonetti), J. Edward Bromberg (Varkas), Kay Medford (Angel)
Screenplay  Wade Miller, Don Ettlinger
Similar movies  Mysterious Intruder, The Big Sleep, Detour, Z for Zachariah, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard

Guilty Bystander is a 1950 American film noir directed by Joseph Lerner, and starring Zachary Scott and Faye Emerson. The film marked the last motion picture screen appearances for character actors Mary Boland and J. Edward Bromberg.


Guilty Bystander movie scenes

Noirvember guilty bystander


Guilty Bystander wwwgstaticcomtvthumbmovieposters92568p92568

Max Thursday is an alcoholic ex-cop. The only job he can find is as a house detective at his pal Smitty's hotel.

Ex-wife Georgia comes to him in a panic. Their son Jeff is missing and so is her brother Fred. She didn't go to the police after being warned not to by Dr. Elder, a business acquaintance of Fred's.

The drunken Max tries to confront Dr. Elder, but is knocked cold. He wakes up in jail to learn that Elder has been killed and he, Max, is the prime suspect. Georgia gives him an alibi, though, so Max is let out.

Now sober, Max learns that the doctor was involved in a diamond smuggling operation with Varkas, a known criminal. He learns from Varkas' helpful moll, Angel, that the gangster's men are holding Fred hostage.

Max is shot by Varkas' thugs. When he recovers, Varkas is dead, and Max finally realizes that it's his old friend Smitty who's behind the whole scheme. Jeff and Fred and rescued and a grateful Georgia welcomes them and Max back.


  • Zachary Scott as Max Thursday
  • Faye Emerson as Georgia
  • Mary Boland as Smitty
  • Sam Levene as Captain Tonetti
  • J. Edward Bromberg as Varkas
  • Kay Medford as Angel
  • Jed Prouty as Dr. Elder
  • Harry Landers as Bert
  • Dennis Patrick as Mace
  • Ray Julian as Johnny
  • Critical response

    Film critic Bosley Crowther, writing for The New York Times, calls Guilty Bystander's plot as average but notes "... the slow, sultry, steaming sadism that is usually standard in this type of film is rather effectively accomplished. The photography is full of heavy moods. And some of the melodramatic action, such as a chase in the subway, is good."

    Film critic Dennis Schwartz panned the film in his review, but praised Zachary Scott's acting chops. He wrote, "Zachary Scott acts his butt off, but can't come close to saving this uninteresting film noir melodrama from how ordinary it is. It's a low-budget film that is saddled with a weak storyline and is poorly photographed. It's about a world of assorted losers: drunks, hypochondriacs, smugglers, and double-crossers ... There's just not much of a story here to sink your teeth into. The film's best asset is Scott acting out the part of a thirsty drunk."


    Guilty Bystander Wikipedia
    Guilty Bystander IMDbGuilty Bystander LetterboxdGuilty Bystander

    Similar Topics
    Mysterious Intruder
    Sunset Boulevard
    The Big Sleep