Saturday, December 1, 2018

FLIGHT TO HONG KONG (1956)



This budgeted black and white crime drama was directed and produced by Joseph M. Newman of, “This Island Earth,” fame. Newman finished his career in television. There are no dull moments in this eighty-eight minute film as it leaps from, as one poster put it, the “sin-capitals of the world” from Hong Kong, to Tangiers, Macao, Tokyo and San Francisco in the effort to keep the lead actor in business and alive. A Sabre Productions film, it was formed by associate producer, Victor Orsatti, and distributed by United Artists. Orsatti would later join Rory Calhoun to help form Rorvic Productions. The forgettable music score is composed by Albert "B-movie" Glasser. In mock documentary fashion, the film initially opens with a British officer explaining the world-wide effort to bring crime syndicates to justice. Not a bad film, its limited release destined it to be quickly dismissed by most moviegoers. But it is well cast and acted, with Calhoun a charming scoundrel. Unfortunately, the dialogue was obtained from a folder marked, “The Cliché Files.


Handsome and self-confident, Calhoun is a lady magnet. No one knows this better than himself. He comes off as a respectable businessman in the skeptical “import-export” business on his flight to Hong Kong. That is what he tells fellow passenger, the equally charming, Barbara Rush, a bestselling author. They hit if off like two college seniors who imagine each might be “the one.” Their airliner is transporting industrial diamonds and is hijacked for this very reason. Calhoun can do nothing about it nor does he want to. He is the mastermind behind it. The plane is forced to land on an abandoned runway, totally disrupting everyone's dinner plans. Every time he and Rush unexpectedly meet throughout the film, Calhoun is mysteriously called away on “business.” Unsuspectingly, he becomes the central character for her next novel. Calhoun becomes more undependable by the week which is no surprise to his long-time girlfriend, Delores Donlon.

No longer working on his own, Calhoun has become an operative for a crime cartel. Things have gone swimmingly for him, but there is hanzi on the wall that his carefree life may be hampered by his personal elimination. His fellow operative, Pat Conway, would like nothing better. Calhoun's confidence at an all time high, he decides to freelance. Never do that to a boss of a crime syndicate. Calhoun's fear and desperation increase as the film progresses. He fakes his own kidnapping, then double-crosses the syndicate in a savvy display of violence by rigging a ceiling fan with a grenade taped to the top of each blade. When the fan is turned on, the connected string tightens and sets off the mortal blasts. He is assumed dead among the gang members. Calhoun departs with an alias and a million dollars in diamonds. The syndicate believes his demise is highly exaggerated.


Constantly on the run, he racks up a lot of frequent flier miles and pockets full of airline peanuts. An entire year later he tracks down Rush in San Francisco and crashes a party thrown by her publisher on behalf of her latest book success, Calhoun being the inspiration. In an understatement, she is surprised. Especially by his acknowledgment that he has a new identity. He thought she would find that pretty cool. To his surprise, she has moved on with Rhodes Reason (in an uncredited role) without much thought to Calhoun. Personally embarrassed, Calhoun slugs (without reason) Reason and storms off, wandering the streets of San Francisco in search of a safety plan as the gangsters close in. A loyal friend gets him passage on a steamer back to Hong Kong. He contacts his life-long mentor, played by Soo Yong, and also reunites with Donlon. Calhoun's realization that his diamond-filled briefcase has brought nothing but trouble, he attempts to give it back to Conway and walk away. Knowing what Calhoun knows, however, they cannot let him go “unattended.”

Note: One of my old movie pet peeves is transportation continuity. Airliners seem to provide the most problems. Low-budget films are notorious offenders. Accessing ideal stock footage can be understandably difficult or expensive. However, I do not understand why it happened so frequently. Padding the film's length perhaps. In most cases, however, a transitional scene to another location would suffice. These editing details are sometimes blatantly obvious. The poor continuity in this film is a good example. Under the opening titles we are witness to stock footage of a Pan American Stratocruiser in flight and its landing. The film's director takes over with a plane “transfer” to finish the journey from Tokyo to Hong Kong on a fictitious airline called, “East Asiatic Airways.” For a period United States Air Force buff, it is obvious the producers have altered an Air Force transport, slapping fake letters on the fuselage and an “EAA” round logo over the Air Force star of their classic “star and bars” emblem. Leaving the red, white and blue bars in tact. In flight, the plane morphs into a United Airlines airliner. After that hijacking diversion, the plane finally arrives in Hong Kong as a Pan American DC-6. All those changes with not one passenger missing their boarding gate. Locating their luggage may be a different story.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

THE PRIZE (1963)



This longer than necessary Communist spy yarn, distributed by MGM, fits the era and is more suspense than thriller, more nonsense than common sense. Director, Mark Robson, formed the Irving Wallace novel into a blend of intrigue and sarcastic wit that one may suspect Alfred Hitchcock had a hand in. There are glaring process screen backgrounds ala Hitchcock but there is certainly nothing low budget about the film, what with the cast and crew in Stockholm and the star's salaries. The intricate plot takes about fifty minutes to get propelled while the Nobel sub-plots lengthen the film with none relevant after exiting the theater. Right from the opening credits, with its use of snare drums and syncopated rhythms, you may guess correctly that Jerry Goldsmith wrote the score.

Newman arrives with skepticism in Stockholm to receive his Nobel Prize in Literature. His lack of Nobel enthusiasm and less than classy behavior does have its effect. Newman tells the press he has not written a book in years and wonders why he was nominated in the first place. The committee is aghast to learn he has maintained a living writing pulp fiction detective novels. All their noses automatically turned upward.


Elke Sommer, in her first American role, serves as Newman's assistant upon arrival. She is strictly by the book and expects no hanky-panky on the drive from the airport. Every moviegoer knew it is just a matter of time before she succumbs to Newman's bright blue eyes. Somewhat oddly, she is never in harm's way in spite of her close association with Newman. Her character is one-dimensional and not thoroughly defined, relying only on her memorable attractiveness and stacked hair. Which was all that was needed for most males of the era. No one came out of a Sommer film stunned by her acting skills. Do not confuse this film with “The Oscar.” That film takes the prize for the most embarrassing high profile film of the Sixties.


On a 180 degree career path to Sommer is classically pretty, Diane Baker, perhaps known more to television viewers than moviegoers. Her upper class, reserved appeal is her strongest asset for her intermittent role, with little to suggest she is integral to the script. She plays the niece of Edward G. Robinson's first character.


Robinson is a pivotal character but there is not much for him to do. He is also on the Nobel ticket but is kidnapped by the Communists with his “identical twin brother” taking his place. The plan is to move Uncle Edward behind the Iron Curtain giving his brother the propaganda opportunity to make disparaging remarks about the U.S. during his acceptance speech. When Robinson 2.0 unites with Baker, it is not clear if she is part of the scheme or not. But Newman notices a change in Robinson's manner upon their second meeting and begins his speculations. No one takes him seriously except a couple of Communist agents. Newman becomes their primary target. His wit goes into hiding.


For a writer with little appetite for real life dangers nor the expertise to handle such, Newman manages a few fantastical escapes. His processed “hitchcockian” fall into the river is reminiscent of the falling scenes in “Vertigo.” How he survived such a free fall one may wonder. However, the real prize goes to the scene with the Communists trying to run him down on an iron truss bridge. It is the agents third bridge attempt, who are now on foot, that sets up his ridiculous escape. A farm truck approaches the bridge at speed. That is to say, in a blur. Newman runs to the opposite side of the truck. After the truck passes he appears to have vanished. Even if he knew where to get a super human hand grip on the side of the truck, the force would have pulled his writing arm from his shoulder socket! His screams of agony would make him easy to track. But there he goes, clinging to the side of the truck, face to face with a goat, in 007 glory. It is a laughable moment.

In the end, Newman has the Nobel thrust upon him anyway, making little sense after insulting the Nobel committee nor for doing anything in recent years to warrant it. Like former President Obama receiving his Nobel for simply existing in his first year.

Note: On a road to a career peak, after a few speed bumps, this movie is tailor-made for the likes of Newman. An anti-establishment figure with grumpy witticisms. Doubt there were other “A-listers” as appropriate, but James “Our Man Flint” Coburn comes to mind. But not James Dean, had he lived. Newman inherited a couple of early roles that were slated for Dean. James Dean and Elke Sommer. I sense a new female casting call. Finally, the silly nudist conference scene has little point. Surely a more creative way for Paul Newman to escape the bad guys. It was simply Hollywood's way of salaciously pushing the early Sixties envelope a bit.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

CLOSE-UP (1948)



This seventy-six minute drama may offer one or two surprises but it is no surprise it was produced by a small studio with the male and female leads somewhat resembling more famous Hollywood celebs. Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films for Marathon Pictures, it is a pretty good tale of fleshing out a Nazi war criminal who has never been brought to trial. The film starts out on a comedic note simply as an ice breaker so the characters endear themselves to the audience. It is never a dull moment with quips flying left and right. Thank the screenplay by John Bright and Max Wilk for these. Additional dialogue was supplied by the director, Jack Donohue. The humor takes a back seat, however, as the plot unfolds.


Alan Baxter, at times looking and sounding like a young, nasal-toned James Gregory, is a newsreel photographer in New York City. He opens the film with a voice-over that introduces his character and sets the stage for his tale. While on assignment for a high fashion shoot outside a bank, he unknowingly films a Nazi war criminal, Richard Kollmar, exiting the bank. One of Kollmar's operatives was at the same location and realizes the danger of releasing the photos. He buys those frames of film on the basis of a phony story. But it is only a print. Kollmar demands the original negative.


Enter magazine reporter, Virginia Gilmore, looking familiar as the then current, more famous, Jane Greer. Baxter, being a gentleman, is always on the look out for an attractive female. Gilmore's silk stocking-wrapped ankles are the ticket. They hit it off, one reporter to another. Baxter is kidnapped by another Kollmar associate, Phillip Huston, posing as a policemen. He and his henchman take Baxter aboard the intimate surroundings of a Staten Island ferry. I was hoping there would not be a “chase” in such small quarters with the usual up and down staircase pursuit. But Baxter is in constant motion and does a nifty getaway by stepping onto another ferry going the opposite direction at the dock. All feasible. Director, Donohue, handled it well.


Still needing the negatives, a goon is sent to kill Baxter's boss but he never leaves the office. The film negative remaining on his dead body. Baxter gives instructions to his waiting cabbie, Sid Melton, to take the canister to the police if he does not return. Unsuspecting Melton is hit on the melon, however, and the negative is again on the move. Baxter is again kidnapped, along with Gilmore, and lock the former in a basement coal room. The film switches to an “ankle cam” focusing on a pair of post-war nylon stockings. In the background is her boyfriend, Huston, as the audience gasps to learn instantly of Gilmore's backstory. In the meantime, Kollmar hired a seaplane to fly him out of the country. Huston accompanies him with Baxter restrained at gunpoint. Huston has plans to double-cross Kollmar, who suspects as much. Huston is eliminated and Kollmar dashes to the plane with Baxter in pursuit. A sympathy call from Gilmore sent the police to the docks. Kollmar's “ticket” is canceled and the seaplane quickly does a U-turn. Despite the well-meaning call, Gilmore is going to be without nylons for some time.

Note: Comedian, Joey Faye, (above left) plays Baxter's assistant and is responsible for a big dose of the humor. He pretends to be a cool operator with a camera and the ladies. He has better fortune with the former and coming off as the unknown fourth stooge with the latter. Faye should be appreciated for his delivery, timing and physical comedy. He ends the film on a comedic note. Not being entirely incompetent, he had foresight to bring his camera to the shore to film the ending, headlining story. As he steps backwards, he falls into a motorcycle sidecar as it speeds away. His camera still rolling.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT (1959)



Distributed by Sparta Productions, this seventy minutes of celluloid was directed and written by television's Joel Rapp, the man responsible for writing some of the most popular shows of the Sixties. Let us not blame him entirely for this film. This was a team effort. MST3000 understood this. Shave about five minutes and this film might have played better through an RCA or Magnavox console. An intelligent, jazzy score by Gerald Fried opens the film in which a third of the lead cast gets killed. Always an acceptable ending for low-budget acting. The executive producer was Roger Corman (uh-oh) and though the twenty-something high school students are not fooling anyone, the acting is mostly above par thanks to those same twenty-somethings and a few television veterans. A film that concerns a depressing group of flawed characters. There is the alcoholic deadbeat father, a renowned safe cracker who subscribes to the “honor among thieves” mantra, a female classmate who puts the “man” in manipulate and three high schoolers who enjoy talking about slapping their dates around or anyone they dislike. Just call them the “three stooges.”


Tom Pittman is good. Moody. Talking directly into the camera, he opens the film, asking the whereabouts of a safe cracker to maybe work out a deal. Though captivating, his cool, adult delivery immediately defeats the point of the shy high school persona we will witness as the story begins. He is routinely threatened by the bully-leader of the “three stooges,” Howard Veit, in his only acting role. Why? Because Pittman is the brightest student in class. In true liberal fashion, if you cannot best someone, then try to destroy them. So Veit seems to be the more logical choice as the "wanna be" big shot, what with his classroom disruptions and smart aleck replies. But he is just not that smart. Pittman is the one student who has a scholarship waiting. Being a big shot is not in his thinking. His downfall is the cute Virginia Aldridge, part-time tart of meathead Veit. With an ulterior motive, she goes sweet on Pittman to get him to write her final exam essay. He thinks they have a future. She thinks she possibly might graduate. Students typically get uncomfortable when held after class. Their teacher, television’s Peter Leeds, knows she did not write it. She cannot even quote it. After denying it, Leeds presses Pittman again for the truth and he confesses. She is outraged he told the truth. Things just never work out for her. Any wonder why. She will not graduate and also cancel Pittman’s college scholarship. Thanks, honey-bunch.


Malcolm Atterbury plays Pittman’s father. He was an old pro and he bolsters the film’s early stages. Their father and son scenes are tender if not heartbreaking. Pittman is devoted to his father and believes he will get another job, even remarry. Dad has reassured his son he has also sworn off drink. Unfortunately, he returns to the bottle after two rejections in a row. Finding his father slumped in a chair, Pittman bends before him and breaks down in tears. He would do anything to remove their financial state of affairs and buy useless stuff for Aldridge. While at work, dockside, Pittman overhears his boss, Bryan Foulger, planning a heroin deal worth a million dollars. I begin wondering if he deserved that scholarship anyway if he is thinking no one would notice his sudden change in lifestyle with that money. The film shifts to a high stakes heist to intercept the money before Foulger can make the transaction.


Pittman wanders the streets looking for the safe cracker. His fake walking in place, head turning left and right, with superimposed city lights, is pretty funny. Stanley Adams, the well-dressed thief is his man. Adams spends his off hours mooching off a liquor store owned by Louis Quinn, his brother-in-law. Quinn arranges for the trio to meet as Pittman transforms into a savvy mastermind. Imagine them not laughing if he were an actual high school senior. If you can imagine it, things do not go as planned for the Pittman trio. Because of a traffic accident delay they miss their first late night auto-ferry connection. Now there is a limited window to crack the safe to be safe.


Self-serving Aldridge tells Veit about Pittman’s plan and suggests, with all her seductive powers, he do a post-intercept, taking the money from Pittman. Up strolls Foulger and his dealer, the “three stooges,” and, how she got dockside I do not know, Aldridge. In the middle of all this, a burglar alarm alerts the police. Note a necessary film flop when a single policeman arrives in his Plymouth patrol car (conveniently unmarked) which is right-hand drive. The logical flip needed to match the next long shot of the car pulling along the dock heading in the proper direction. Except that two officers get out of the car. Meh, close enough. They use the correctly projected footage for a “second” patrol car’s arrival from the “opposite” direction. A visual lesson in how to save production money. After Veit is dropped by a bullet and the briefcase flies opens, Foulger goes berserk looking directly into the camera and twice angrily fumes, “A million bucks!” as he watches it float away from the dock.

The aftermath calls for at least four funeral arrangements and taxpayers to pay room and board for the rest of the lead cast. Unknown to him at the moment, Pittman will never get a single visit from his father.

Note: James Dean made a huge impact (poor choice of words) on Tom Pittman. Both had television experience with that medium being the bulk of Pittman’s work. He had several movies to his credit and this was his last film, released posthumously, along with a previous film, after he died from injuries crashing over a cliff in a Porsche Spyder on Halloween, three years after Dean. Same type of car Dean last drove. It was nearly twenty days later that his body and car were discovered in a ravine.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957)



This was an impressive science fiction film for its day. The main character is not fending off stereotypical invasion of aliens from another planet. Rather, it is a fantastical tale of a man's challenge to retain his very own existence through an imaginative screenplay and thought-provoking story, thanks to Richard Matheson. The miniaturization special effects are handled well though certain props are scaled inconsistently. The effects were produced just as convincingly—perhaps better—seventeen years earlier in, “Dr. Cyclops,” the first film to suggest miniaturization. Directed by Jack Arnold and produced by Albert Zugsmith, this is eighty-one minutes well spent. It was a box office success for Universal Pictures. Though logically pure science fiction, it is reasonable theory in the early going.


While boating with his wife, played by Randy Stuart, Grant Williams is overwhelmed by a gray cloud as it passes over the craft. After returning on deck, she notices he is covered in reflective flakes. The flakes provide a visual effect to convince the audience it exists. As if this was not enough of a strange, once-in-a-lifetime experience, he is later accidentally exposed to large amounts of common insecticide. The radioactive mist and insecticide combination rearrange William's molecular structure, causing his cells to shrink in perfect sync. Of course.

Months roll by with little thought of the misty cloud until Williams notices his clothes seem a tad too big. The subtle changes of his shrinkage are handled believably. Jumping to a conclusion he blames the laundry service, perhaps that mysterious process known as Martinizing. The realization his wife no longer needs to stand on her tip-toes to kiss him gives confirmation to his fear. His physician, William Schallert, dismisses his concerns and reassures him that he is normal. A young man simply does not grow shorter, after all. But Williams is further convinced there is something wrong when his wedding ring falls from his finger. An omen to be sure.


At the suggestion of his “thoughtful” brother, Paul Langton, his story hits the headlines in his hope Williams might provide income as a national, three foot tall, freakazoid. His humiliation is too much to bear, however, and he ventures outside his home. A female neighborhood midget—that does not happen every day either—becomes his encouraging source in accepting his short comings. It does not take him long to notice, however, she is getting taller. His next moving experience is to get comfortable in a new doll house within his 1:1 scale home. By this time, Williams is getting rather cranky. His wife needs a grocery run to pick up a lima bean for his supper. She leaves the front door open just a few seconds and their cat, played by Orangey, gets in. As some cats have probably considered, he attacks his owner. When the wife returns to find a blood-stained piece of cloth, she assumes Orangey has been a vehwy, vehwy bad kitty.


Alive but trapped in the basement by a locked door, Williams has to overcome many obstacles to survive, including a very intimidating spider the size of a sedan and nourishment from cheese retrieved from a set mouse trap. Yuck! These are “fun” scenes as challenges erupt adapting to everyday objects. When the water heater bursts, a minor inconvenience for most people, it becomes a life threatening flood for Williams as the rushing water leads down a drain pipe. After an exhausting final battle with that pesky spider, he awakens to find he is small enough to slip through one square of a window screen. Having survived incredible odds, Williams no longer fears the future as the inspiring music crescendos and he gazes to the heavens. No matter how small he becomes he will still matter in God's universe. "To God, there is no zero." He is immediately devoured by a praying mantis. Perhaps.

Note: Richard Matheson was a superb writer of science fiction and may be best known as the one providing many successful scripts for television's original, “Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

Saturday, September 22, 2018

THE MOB (1951)



This Columbia Pictures release, directed by Robert Parish with an adapted screenplay by William Bowers, is first rate from beginning to end. A compelling film about corruption, mental delusions and atonement. Bower’s script bounces humorous quips from one character to another as one might expect from a film noir of this caliber. Nearly everyone has a turn at them. The cinematography by Joseph Walker is rich with wet streets and dark, danger-filled shadows. The well-versed George Duning provided and effective music score, as well.


Police detective, Broderick Crawford, is duped by a mob killer carrying an authentic police badge who appeared to be coming to the aid of a shooting victim. Crawford learns the victim was a key witness in an upcoming hearing and that “attending officer” does not exist. The police commissioner is livid and would like to punish Crawford for his halfhearted effort to double check the true identity of the impostor/gunman. For news headline purposes only, accompanied by a fake picture, he is “suspended.” His real punishment, however, is a commanded death defying undercover assignment to infiltrate a rough New York waterfront crime organization and bring down its kingpin. Needing to redeem his career, Crawford becomes very believable as a tough, sarcastic and unflappable thug from New Orleans. His noir quips are expelled effortlessly through his legendary lightning delivery. Also on the waterfront payroll is Richard Kiley. He and Crawford become pals. It does not take Kiley long, however, to frequently question why Crawford is so interested in what goes on. A relatively unknown Hollywood entity at this point in his career, Kiley is very authentic in this role. Crawford drops a few key names which gets the attention of a union thug, Ernest Borgnine. Neville Brand, nearly at a typecast level in his career, is again playing a henchman. This time not the psychotic “Chester” from, “D.O.A,” but a thug with the wherewithal to also deliver a few quips of his own.


Local bartender, Matt Crowley, seems to know a lot about what goes on around the waterfront. For a fee. After frequent encounters, he feels Crawford can be trusted enough to set up a meeting with Blackie, the kingpin. A local garage mechanic, working with the police, needs to repair a “flat” on Crowley’s car first. In reality, the police put a tracking device under his car about the size of a carry-on suitcase. Also installed is an equally sized tank that cleverly drips fluorescent dye on the road so the police can tail the car at night using an infrared spotlight. Cool. Except they did not figure a city street sweeper would turn onto their street a few blocks ahead of them. Just one of the many clever twists in this film you will not expect.


Blackie wants Crawford to do him a favor. Kill the suspended police officer seen in the newspaper. In another twist, Crawford is hired to do a hit on himself. Not an easy assignment. Blackie has kidnapped Crawford’s girlfriend and nurse, Betty Buehler, to use as a pawn to flesh out her boyfriend, who, unknowingly, stands before him. When she and Crawford meet, each role play as effectively as possible. The scenario becomes potentially too dangerous and Crawford tries to overpower Blackie, who escapes with a minor gunshot wound. A hospital setting ends the film with both Buehler and Blackie recovering. Blackie later enters Buehler’s hospital room at gunpoint while Crawford is visiting. From an adjacent building, the police have a clear shot through the window.

Note: There is a humorous scene when Kiley sets up a date for himself and Crawford in an effort to find out what Crawford’s game is. The women in waiting are Kiley’s wife, Lynn Baggettt, and his sister, Doris, played by Jean Alexander. Crawford immediately hooks up with the more attractive wife. Seems no one wants to be with sister. Especially Kiley, who protests. He says there is nothing wrong with Doris. “Why can’t he like Doris?!” The sister quickly adds, “Why can’t somebody?” After numerous teasing lines between Baggett and Crawford, the sister turns to her brother, “Well, say something to me.” Kiley hesitates then awkwardly replies, “Oh...uh..how ya’ been?”


Saturday, September 8, 2018

CHICAGO SYNDICATE (1955)



There is a crowded Chicago commuter train load of details to sift through during this average B-movie from Clover Productions, distributed by Columbia Pictures. The voice-over details in documentary style plus the added dialogue make it difficult to keep things straight at times. Probably does not matter. I have grown to appreciate Dennis O’Keefe's talents. His character here, through no fault of his own, is probably too amazing to be real. He knocks down the analytical accountant stereotype of a numbers cruncher. A Chicago newspaper editor, civic leaders, along with a detective, the ubiquitous John Zaremba, want him to go undercover to flesh out the syndicate responsible for killing a bookkeeper who had evidence on the syndicate’s boss, Paul Stewart. Feeling they have the wrong guy for the job, O’Keefe is totally against the dangers associated with going undercover. They plan to pay him sixty grand to do it. He gives it try. O'Keefe handles everything like an experienced secret agent. Cool under pressure and light on his feet. Fists of iron. Pencils with no erasers. Stewart is excellent as a seemingly good-natured crime czar whose only love comes from his mother. The suave insurance scammer has little fear but his patience has its limits. He can be vicious. O’Keefe’s plan is to capture assumed microfilm to put Stewart away on tax evasion.


Speaking of hard to believe, Allison Hayes’ role has her going undercover, on her own initiative, using an alias to avenge her bookkeeping father’s death at the hand of Stewart. This is after spending time in a mental institution over the traumatic event and subsequent suicide of her mother. She has recovered very quickly. O’Keefe befriends her to gain access into Stewart’s nightclub. Once he is informed of who she really is, he suggests she stay out of harm’s way. But Hayes comes in handy. O’Keefe’s amazing accounting expertise places him in good favor with Stewart after the police arrange a jewel theft and nifty insurance scam.


Double-billed with O'Keefe is Abby Lane, Stewart’s tolerable girl. She drinks too much when she is not performing with her real life husband, Xavier Cugat. The squinty-eyed, rotund devil had a thing for a woman over thirty years his younger. Cugat was given some lines to say. Yay. With numerous roles already under her strapless gowns, Lane does alright in the part. You may find yourself singing her opening number, “One At a Time,” long after the ending. O'Keefe suggests Hayes cater to Stewart's social weaknesses which makes Lane jealous, who then threatens to reveal Stewart’s “edited” books. His goons do a sixty-second beating in a separate room in full earshot of all the dinner guests. Awkward. Lane comes out of the room instantly bruised by a lot of strategically placed dark, smudgy makeup and tousled hair.


In a bit of a nail biter, Zaremba and police arrive to catch Stewart with his account book on a tip from O'Keefe. To his dismay, Stewart burns the pages in his mommy's wood stove. With the expected knock on the door, O’Keefe volunteers to answer it. To not blow his cover, he decks Zaremba. Now horizontal, he whispers to him that the book has been burned. Both men pull off the charade successfully. As I say, one amazing accountant. Kind of funny when Zaremba tries to enter the room, though, as he does a comical triple take as if confused. What the...hey! Stewart knows Zaremba well but O'Keefe covers the incident by telling him he thought he was a hood.

Lane's hidden bookkeeping microfilm evidence is revealed by the Cugat then Stewart tells O’Keefe to light a match to it. Instead, he pockets the microfilm, and with a punch to Stewart's face, makes a run for it. The pursuing Stewart and his goons offer up a free bullet for O'Keefe. As if expecting her son to come by any moment, from her upstairs window she witnesses Stewart being brought down by the police fire in front of her apartment building. He was such a good boy.