Saturday, June 15, 2019

THE PACE THAT THRILLS (1952)



You can thank the producer, Lewis J. Rachmil, for helping make this RKO Pictures release just sixty-three minutes long. Howard Hughes' tread marks are evident in this film with opening dramatic action shots of motorcycle racing appearing to have been filmed a decade earlier. No music score beneath the credits, just the roar of racing. If you are not an historic motorcycle fan the film will seem long. Plaudits go to good rear camera work right in the thick of the racing sequences. Of course, sandwiched in between are the familiar fuzzy studio projected backgrounds of actors "pseudo-racing." A predictable script with supporting actors more C-movie than B-movie, it becomes simply a time-filler, as it was for me. In spite of these things, the entertainment value is pretty high.


With a similar visual opening, do not confuse this film with the motorcycle gang film, "The Wild One." The dweebs in this movie certainly could use some road manners, but their Clover Leaf "Sickle" Cub (as one character pronounces it) becomes a gang only to play cycle-soccer, have a cola or ride together weaving between oncoming traffic. Or feeling the thrill of your best girl hanging on for dear life when they "pack double," as those crazy cavorting young adults used to say. But it is not, as the poster might suggest, murder on wheels. Death on wheels might be more likely.


The movie centers around the misunderstood era of motorcycles and winning any way you can. Bill Williams' style of racing has taken a cue from roller derbies as he, quite literally, kicks challengers out of a race in order to win. When your company does not have the fastest bike, cheating levels the field. Encouraging “Long Leg Williams” is his boss and cycle builder, Robert Armstrong. He feels bad that Williams has to play dirty but he can live with that. The chief engineer and childhood friend of Williams, Michael St. Angel, (RKO changing his name to Steve Flagg) is building a new cycle with fluid drive, as per Chrysler transmissions of the day, I assume. He thinks Williams is the best rider in the whole city limits. If Williams rides it, they are sure to win. Possibly without cheating. But one never knows. 


Enter female newspaper reporter, Carla Balenda, who is sent to do a hard hitting story of what these nuts do on weekends. When she witnesses Williams lack of riding etiquette in the ring of dirt, her story berates Williams to the point of tears. Well, unlikely. Balenda gets a new perspective on cycling, though, when she and Flagg take to the road with other club members. There is a lot of filming as actors recite dialogue in the movie’s middle. Enough said. Flagg’s new “sickle” still has flaws to work out but no dough to do it. Williams racks up funds by racing and stunt riding on the daredevil circuit, county fairs and cotton candy fundraisers. The latter purely wishful thinking on my part. Flagg again pilots the new bike in a major race while graciously, carefully, Williams takes himself out on the final lap in a controlled crash, giving Flagg and the new cycle the win. But that is all he wins. Williams gets the girl.

NOTE: Williams is half of the acting glue that barely holds this film together. Robert Armstrong is the other half. Frank McHugh is on hand to do his trademark high, lilting laugh. Balenda holds her own but that cannot be said of the handsome Flagg. His lines are delivered like a polished amateur. The name change did not help. A red flag that his career was not going to be remembered.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

UNDERTOW (1949)



Distributed by Universal Pictures, produced by Ralph Dietrich and directed by William Castle, "Undertow" is not ground-breaking nor clever but it does fly by thanks to a screenplay by Arthur T. Horman and Lee Loeb. Unfortunately, they also provide one assumed outcome in the first ten minutes of this seventy-one minute film. How it plays out is not as obvious but suffice to say, there are few surprises. The filming in Chicago may bring back memories if you lived there during this era. It is yet another B-movie noir with little to fault or remember. Paul Sawtell took the reigns as composer but none of the themes in this movie will be hummed after the ending.


Scott Brady, doing a fine job here as a handsome I-take-care-of-myself former Chicago mobster, ex-con and war veteran, turning over a new leaf as manager of a lodge in Reno. Before leaving on a quick trip back home to Chicago and “mend a fence” or two, he spots his old friend and colleague from the Windy City, John Russell, a fellow casino owner. As both get up to speed on their seven-year separation, each is excited to share a glimpse of their engagement rings for their respective girl. Strolling through the casino, Brady accidentally bumps into vacationing Peggy Dow. Pardons are accepted but they stumble upon each other a second time, laughing at the coincidence. 


He and Dow are so comfortable together there is little surprise that they will have a future together within the hour. She is an unassuming elementary teacher from Chicago with zero gambling experience but has won twice with only two dice rolls. After seeing the handler change the dice after a nod from Russell, Brady makes an astute gambling decision on her behalf and she wins anyway. Russell is not that amused and feigns his disappointment that Brady has to leave so soon. This is that ten minute point. Based on Russell’s early film roles with his angular face and “dangerous” eyebrows, there is no surprise, either, he has ulterior motives. It will be no surprise, as well, that Dow and Brady are on the same plane back to Chicago. Good odds. She may not be any good at it, but is willing to gamble on a relationship.


No sooner than hitting the pavement from the airliner steps, Brady is met by childhood friend, now detective, Bruce Bennett, above with the nearly invisible Roc (Rock) Hudson in his fifty-second stint as a police detective. Bennett has orders to bring him in for questioning. The police captain is especially hard on Brady, accusing him of returning just to kill mob kingpin, Big Jim. The police tail him with little success. Brady reunites with his girl, Dorothy Hart, Big Jim’s niece, at Buckingham Fountain along Lake Shore Drive. Brady wants to make peace with him so they can get married. Later that night, Brady is attacked, purposely shot or grazed in the hand and placed in a car across the road from a diner. A revolver placed beside him. Gadzooks! Then, perhaps the only surprise in the film, Robert Easton shows up as a “valet” for the country diner! Cars are parked willy-nilly in the gravel lot and he offers to park Brady’s car. He has done a fine job so far. Again, no surprise who is on the screen with his struggling, over-the-top southern drawl trademark. I assume he did not offer to park the police vehicle that sets in front of the diner. Spotting that, Brady makes a quick exit and finds out Big Jim is suddenly not available for any future opinions and a clichéd frame is afoot. Dow goes the extra “magnificent mile” to protect Brady, while Bennett, unfairly suspended by the captain for supporting an innocent man, has evidence to help clear Brady.


Unsurprisingly, Russell shows up in Chicago with Hart in the mansion she inherited from “Big Dead Uncle.” Brady expects help from both but she is pretty icy about it. He then notices the chunk of “ice” around her finger that Russell had shown him in Reno. Again, no surprise who orchestrated the murder and frame-up. A rapid happy ending evolves for Brady and Dow, at least.

NOTE: Some suggest Peggy Dow was bland in this outing. Perhaps hard to argue with, casting her did seem appropriate. She is sweet in this role. Yet probably best she ended her three-year career after marrying an oil baron. Otherwise she might have been lost in guest starring roles after her television transition. Dorothy Hart never set a film frame on fire, either, but she should have. She is pretty one dimensional as a devious female with hardly more than a smirk or smile. Smoki Whitfield has three brief, but effective scenes as Big Jim’'s long-time aide. Perhaps the most memorable takeaway from the movie outside Robert Easton's “stunning” performance, of course.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

BORDERLINE (1950)


There is not much of anything hard hitting in this eighty-eight minute crime noir-ette about narcotics smuggling. Directed by William Seiter with a decent screenplay by Devery Freeman, this Universal International released B-movie eventually slipped between theater seats rather quickly. Fans of Claire Trevor or Fred MacMurray may be pleased, however. Fans of Raymond Burr, not so much, as his screen time carries less weight than he appears, playing a ruthless drug dealer in a widescreen suit. A music score by Hans Salter supports the film.



The opening establishes this as a light comedy with Trevor slightly daft as per Madeline Kahn some twenty years later. Trevor’s character is “Madeleine” by the way. Policewoman Trevor is being ignored as the right undercover officer to infiltrate the drug dealing gang. With her face framed within a “V” between two male sleeves, their superior thinks she is not tawdry enough. Glancing her direction, one guy thinks she would probably pass. Two seconds later, Trevor's expression reacts to the remark. Another makes it a point to mention she was in the OSS during the war and speaks “Mexican.” Training she never uses throughout the film.

The film cuts to Mexico as Salter’s score decidedly adds a theme seemingly pulled from a music library shelf labeled, “Mexican.” Trevor arrives by dusty bus, walks into a cantina and in the very next frame she is dancing in a chorus line! Their second, assumed purposely humorous number, has all six girls displaying their training from the Lucy Ricardo School of Music and Dance. A number that could have used at least one run through backstage. None are in sync with the melody nor the difficult lyrics of, 'la-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la.' Sounding uncomfortably like barnyard chickens. Trevor seems especially out of her element. It is a funny scene. She tries, in not-so-subtle fashion, to get Burr to make eye contact. After making several passes, at one point she kicks her left then her right leg high on both sides of him. I imagine the breeze felt good in the stuffy nightclub.



Trevor is making inroads into Burr’s circle of noir-do-wells but all is interrupted when MacMurray enters the film with gun in hand, confronting Burr about a shipment of narcotics. He wants credit for the sale. There is a tussle, some gunpowder, and MacMurray absconds with Trevor, assuming she is part of Burr’s inner circle. Narcotics boss, Roy Roberts, arranges for them to pose as husband and wife as they head toward the borderline of a studio set. 



In this film, I could not accept Fred MacMurray as a hardened criminal as his first screen appearance might suggest. He does wear a frown most of the way, but I expected dry quips at any moment. The script lightens up and not surprisingly, so does MacMurray. Really no secret, thanks to the comedic music score. Avoiding the Mexican authorities, they ditch one of the most strategically muddied cars in film. Now on foot, there are shades of “It Happened One Night” as both share their phony backstories so as not to reveal their true identity. There is a lot of assumptions between them. The last ten minutes are worth the wait as big surprises await the leads. Other than the early tussle with the big Burr, the only real excitement comes in the last two minutes.

Note: This is purely an innocuous action/comedy movie which happens to have respected leads. A film that starts promising and ends pleasant enough. Trevor had a flair for subtle comedy. MacMurray was no stranger to comedy, either. But as a memorable film noir crime saga, it is borderline at best. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

THE CHASE (1946)



Michel Michelet's opening Cuban “piano concerto” for this film noir seems to fit crashing waves along an ocean shore. A place the female lead longs to be. It is befitting a passionate love story, too, but passion is in short supply during its eighty-six minute run. He got plenty of mileage out of his score, doubling as a spinning record tune and for badly faked piano playing for this United Artists release. The score beyond this does not seem noticeably necessary. On the camera front, there are a few slow transitional shots which may try your patience. In particular, one long pause of the female lead as she stares out a ship's porthole window.

Robert Cummings plays a penniless Navy veteran with a small prescription bottle. His easy going acting style made him friendly to audiences. His vocal tone, comforting and trustworthy. Just a nice young man. He is every bit that in this film. On the opposite scale is Steve Cochran, a ruthless Miami gangster who eliminates his competition by death. This is usually carried out by his aide and murdering sidekick, Peter Lorre, in another signature role who is always wary and complaining about Cochran's expenses. French-born actress, Michèle Morgan, is Cochran’s property wife of three years. Cochran's rather brief screen time ignites the film, unlike Morgan's extended film time.


The film opens on a light moment with Cummings salivating outside a diner window as a cook flips pancakes and turns bacon. In resignation, he departs, stepping on a wallet belonging to Cochran. Cummings spends a whopping $1.50 for breakfast then returns the wallet and remaining cash to Cochran at his ostentatious mansion. Their first meeting is a gem. Being uncomfortable in his surroundings and fending off many questions, Cummings shyly admits he returned the wallet probably because he is just a sucker. This elicits a singular chuckle out of deadpan Lorre. Given his own lifestyle, Cochran is amazed that anyone would do this. He likes Cummings' unassuming nature and honesty. He is immediately hired as the new chauffeur as the current one is fired. Perhaps fired upon.


Cochran certainly has a screw loose upstairs. His menacing glare makes one wonder what is turning inside his head. He may also have a death wish of sorts. On the floorboard at the rear seat of his limo, he has installed accelerator and brake pedals. He can override the chauffeur anytime he wants. He is quite amused by it though Lorre seems bored with it all. All the driver need do is steer. It brings a whole new dimension to driving dynamics. He surprises Cummings with his toy by going over one hundred miles per hour to beat an approaching train. Cochran applies the brakes just in time, only skidding about fifteen feet. A testament to the amazing stopping power of skinny, radial tires, drum brakes of the era and the audience's gullibility.


Morgan came into Cochran's life with nothing and now wants to be let go the same way. Who better to arrange a getaway trip than a chauffeur. Thus begins a tedious, forty minute middle section which is simply used to lead the audience on a fantasy journey. With clever, transparent overlapping film scenes, one assumes it illustrates time transitions. One may wonder why Cummings makes some clichéd decisions in the face of danger. Illogically, he leaves his meek persona behind to become a debonair risk taker. Once he awakes in a cold sweat, your first words might be, “You have got to be kidding!” Cummings suffers from “anxiety neurosis” due to combat shock and we better understand the reason for his medication. In hindsight, though established better in other films, the dream excursion adds the only real excitement to the film. Too bad it never happened.


The recurrence of amnesia sends Cummings back to the navy hospital to consult with his former Commander and current doctor, Jack Holt. In the back of his memory, Cummings seems to think he is supposed to be somewhere and constantly watches the time. To help take his mind off things, Holt takes him to the same nightclub Cochran frequents. What are the chances? They sit on opposite sides of a partition. Intense. After taking a phone call, Holt is spotted by Cochran who was briefly a patient after his own discharge. Considering Cochran’s behavior, he should re-establish those appointments. Predictably, before Holt returns, Cummings memory kicks in and leaves to get Morgan off to Havana.


Near the film’s beginning, “Fats,” played by Don Wilson, spotted Cochran’s new chauffeur buying tickets for Havana. Assuming they were for he and his wife, he mentions this during the aforementioned club scene. Awkward. The two gangsters are in extreme hot pursuit of his lousy, stinking, dishonest chauffeur. The ending scale model train/car chase is quite obvious but good movie-making. Still, the old sedan going one hundred ten miles per hour around thirty mile per hour curves is a bit much. Lorre, never a fan of Cochran’s pedal toy in the back seat, only hopes he and his rear-seated boss can again make the rail crossing before the train. Another meaning behind the movie's title.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950)



Twentieth Century Fox released this interestingly creepy film noir set in London and directed by Jules Dassin. There are countless reviews of this movie’s involved story line. Today, in hindsight, most seem to place it higher on a pedestal than I. Most of the characters have few redeeming qualities so I found it an unpleasant story. There is no denying the great cinematography by Max Greene. One would expect nothing less of a film set in foggy London. This is Richard Widmark's film with his co-stars coming in a distant second.


If one had been following Widmark’s career to this point, his role here will not be a surprise. Undoubtedly the standout of the movie, his emotional range is astounding. Whether one liked his characters or not, moviegoers were familiar with his talent. He portrays a slice of humanity living a day to day existence. He is a desperate American con-artist always planning his next money maker, borrowing “investment” money or lying about his successes. Widmark’s pipe dreams put their trust in untrustworthy people, however, dooming his every venture.


His co-stars turn in creditable performances. Francis Sullivan is an overweight, slimy nightclub owner who has Widmark on a leash to hustle money into his club. One would expect him to expire in this film, either by self-implosion or at the hands of an angry Widmark. His extended hysterical laughter after Widmark tells him of his wrestling scheme is a bit much. Though I imagine it was the director’s way of humiliating Widmark's character even more. Google...um, no...Googie Withers plays Sullivan’s estranged wife with schemes of her own. An underplayed performance by Herbert Lom is of note. As the promotional kingpin of the wrestling world in London, he does not take competition kindly. There are always serious consequences.


Gene Tierney may be the weakest link in the film. She barely exudes a emotion beyond sadness. She sympathetically tries to help Widmark rid himself of his habitual demons. Her character is without fault, unlike his. Opposites do not attract in this case. She could have been easily replaced without skipping a beat. Perhaps with Jane Wyman or Evelyn Keyes.


The final scene for real life wrestler, Stanislaus Zbyszko, takes a back seat to no one. His bout with Mike Mazurki packs a disgusting wallop as both men are intertwined to gain final dominance. No scoring. Just bare chested slaps and grunting. His death from an over-worked heart, head cradled in his son's arms, is worth noting. With a face showing the ravages of time in and out of the ring, he gives a fine performance while personifying the film’s dark, unattractive premise.

Note: Hugh Marlowe is once again a supportive third wheel, this time for Tierney and her roller coaster relationship with Widmark. He is preparing “pasta flambeau” when Tierney, his apartment neighbor, knocks on his door. His blood-curdling scream forces her entry, finding him engulfed in smoke. Judging by Marlowe’s total panic, one would expect him to be surrounded by a consuming fire of eminent death. Taint easy to burn pasta in water. Maybe it was supposed to be humorous but there is no hint of humor in the scene. For me, it simply establishes a weakness in his character. That cooking over an oven in a turtleneck is not his thing.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1959)



Quoting the open lyrics from the theme to the movie, “Love Story,” Where do I begin? This independent production, infamously known to MST3000 fans, will have your shoulders going up and down from laughter. At the same time, those tears of laughter will turn to pity for the incompetent, unknown cast, which forces me to use their character name in this essay. Pinning down who is the funnier in this film depends on how often it is viewed. As if the cast did not want to be remembered or assaulted, most everyone has an alias in the confusing opening credits. Its budget would barely allow you to buy a new subcompact sedan today. The money not spent was pretty obviously used on props. Apparently with some money to burn, Warner Brothers distributed this one, doing a complete one-eighty from their legendary television westerns of the same period.

All apologies to any junior high drama departments, but that best describes the acting level of this Tom Graeff Production. The opening scene sets the stage for what the viewer is about to experience. Two men in an observatory, the older astronomer of the two with a questionably authentic van dyke, recites dialogue on his “twenty-third take” after previously reassuring the director, “I can do that better, if you want.” Graeff was in total command of his film as the director, the producer, the screenwriter, the cinematographer and editor. Houston...we are experiencing a problem. He wrote the music, which at one point, reminds one of the “Leave It To Beaver” sitcom. He also plays the reporter in this eighty-five minute oddity. For all his control with this debacle, he led a odd personal life, ending with suicide.


Three of the four twenty-something teenagers from space are obviously from the angry red planet, Mars. A disgruntled group if ever there was one. How they traveled so far without killing each other might make a pretty good prequel. Their dialogue is written in a slight Shakespearean style with a pinch of Amish. Memories of those Italian sword and sandal dubbed movies from the early Sixties may come flooding back. The travelers have mythological-type names of Thor, Moreal, Saul and, how he got accepted into the group I do not know, Derek, the sensitive member of the expedition who has sanctity for life. There is a reveal about Derek’s lineage but it has little importance.

Thor is one unhappy space teen. No point trying to reason with hate. Out of this hatred for all things unknown, he kills a dog with his “Dollar Tree” plastic ray-gun, turning it into a skeleton. This special effect is a good bit of editing and is pretty effective whenever it occurs. Which is often. Derek reads the dog tag and tells the crew there really is intelligent life on this planet. Angrily, Thor growls out, “Of what concern are foreign beings?!” Derek, with all the thespian power he can muster, lethargically replies, “Of none to you, Thor.” The deliberate-speaking Derek manages to escape with the dog tag.


These “adultified” teenage hoodlums have come to release giant lobsters...er...Gargons to eliminate all Earthlings. Thor is left on Earth to track down Derek and probably “skeletize” their one dissenter. Thor’s first experience in an automobile and verbal lesson on how to drive is pretty funny as he keeps repeating angrily, “What’s that for!” Derek wanders in a stupor to a nearby town searching for the dog’s owner. The address on the tag is the home of Gramps and his granddaughter, Betty. She has the voice capacity of a newborn sparrow and the acting skill of the average seven-year-old. Gramps is a congenial dolt, clueless and unassuming as they come. He is probably the most genuine actor in the film. Not really that encouraging. Gramps guesses the stranger wearing white “tennies” and a one-piece jumpsuit with pant legs tucked into his white socks is military police. They happen to have a rental room and assume Derek is interested. In reality, he has no idea what he is doing nor does he know the concept of “rental.” To say nothing about Earth currency.


Before long, the sidewalks are littered with skeletons. The police, after a fashion, surmise there might be something afoot here. Thor is perpetually growling out commands to everyone, always threatening to “skeletize” them if they disobey. The police descend on Thor and he gets wounded with two Earth bullets. He escapes and hides in the back of Betty’s car. When she and Derek return, Thor demands they get him to ‘a man of surgery to remove the metal pellets from my flesh. One sudden move and I will slay you both!’ Thou be angry! They take him to a manikin-like medical doctor to remove the bullets. He is amusingly amateur, sounding as if his voice is dubbed. Mister tough teen, Thor, refuses any anesthesia and gets a surprise when he passes out after the bullets are removed. Both Derek and Betty escape. 

The plain clothes policemen, still with their toy “Dragnet” revolvers drawn, use them as pointers at the blood stains on the sidewalk. We never see the police again. After the doctor’s nurse unknowingly gives aid to Thor, he gets behind the wheel of his non-levitating Earth vehicle. Once again in pursuit of Derek, he loses control of the sedan and his first gravity lesson finds himself down a mountainside. Off screen, he is subsequently arrested. But Derek cons everyone. He interrupts the jail transfer of Thor at the police station and both head back to their special effect “guide ship” logo. Derek makes the ultimate sacrificial decision to save Earth from the Gargons and Thor.

Note: I cannot confirm when filming began yet it appears it was during the mid Fifties judging by numerous ten year-old sedans still chugging around. The newest being the frequently seen 1956 Chevrolet and one 1957 Plymouth. Whatever year, Finland had a long wait for its television release in 2005!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

FINGER MAN (1955)



There are few surprises from this eighty-two minute Lindsley Parsons Productions project. Distributed by Allied Artists and directed by Harold Schuster, there were numerous films patterned in the same manner mid-century. Hats off, though, to William Sickner for his photography and Paul Dunlap for providing a solid score which fits the various moods nicely. The talky script is slow at times with a fair share of clichéd staging. It is an average effort and subsequent viewings will probably not be high on your list of priorities. As is so often the case, without an experienced cast, this film noir would not be nearly as watchable.


1955 was a banner year for Frank Lovejoy. A solid foundation of fourteen movies or television dramas during the year. Unfortunate that his short, thirteen-year career did not allow viewers to witness future projects. Seemed he was Hollywood’s go to man when needing an average guy dealing with challenging situations. He possessed an intense, underplayed acting style that, more often than not, was effective. He could be a bit lackluster, too. Lovejoy had a voice of someone who spent the day yelling for his favorite NFL playoff team and has not quite recovered after the weekend. A smokey, nasal sound like few others. An unmistakable voice in radio, Lovejoy does the voice-over narration reminiscent of his earlier radio program, “Night Beat.” Rather unusual to have someone at odds with the law tell his story in voice-overs. Typically the law abiding hero gets the nod. Many criminals end up dead in a routine film noir. No surprise, then, he survives the film's ending.


Lovejoy is a petty criminal who has served time in the big house. He is also a talented “piano player” after a fashion. Probably accompanist for the prison choir. To clarify, we never see the full keyboard of the upright piano he tickles at a nightclub. Not quite sure he had the job as piano player at the club or they just let me play when he shows up. Brought in for hijacking a truck, he is given a choice to either return to prison or help the U.S. Treasury Department take down a crime boss, the less than believable, Forrest Tucker. The studios or perhaps his agent may have struggled to find a niche for Tucker. This does not seem the one. Casting him in a light romantic adventure or as the guy trying to clear his good name from a false rap seemed to work better. But I digress. If Lovejoy is successful in putting the finger on Tucker, his record will be washed clean. The worst that could happen is that he gets killed. Understandably, this factors heavily in his decision. Once he discovers his sister has become a drug addict thanks to Tucker, he is committed to the assignment.


The acting is competent with the possible exception of Timothy Carey, Tucker’s lunatic partner who is not wired properly. Then again, who better to portray a sociopath. Carey could be the levity in this movie as his scenes elicit laughs. Yet nothing amusing about his disturbing desire to scar female’s faces before, during or after killing them. Opposite a laid back Lovejoy, he provides an over-the-top contrast. After confirming the identity of Castle’s body, Carey is later beaten severely by Lovejoy. But before a blow has even landed, Carey immediately starts whimpering like a little child until he finishes his outrageous scene. An odd, one-dimensional character that has become classic Timothy Carey.


Lovejoy’s love interest, formerly employed by Tucker to pad his income, is Peggy Castle. Castle seems a bit too refined for the role. A “Jan Sterling type” would have been a more expected choice. She wants to turn her life around and Lovejoy demands the Treasury also clear her record if he is successful. Our criminal hero needs her help to get on good terms with Tucker. Things do not end well for Castle. Often noted is her final scene crossing a darkened intersection while Lovejoy watches her for the last time from his second story apartment. Dunlop’s music is a perfect matching of scene and score. The best noir element in the film.


Tucker initially likes the short-fused Lovejoy but his opinion changes rather quickly after an undercover detective, assigned to kept tabs on Lovejoy, is fleshed out. The film’s directing goes a bit awry in an implausible, but brutal, scene. We have three men standing in the street, the unconscious detective in the middle. The henchmen push the badly beaten detective in front of the approaching delivery truck in the last second. Though headlights were blazing, the driver did not see any of it. I guess he never felt the thumpty-thump of running over the body, either. He never stopped. We only know one thing about the driver. He was not texting.

The finalé has two criminals making a stand against the police on a wide open street. The officers have protection behind their patrol car. The none-too-bright bad guys go down pretty easy. No escape for the panicky Tucker. Just a reservation at the San Quentin “motor lodge” where the yearly rates are the best value. Lovejoy’s final voice-over, walking away from the camera down a darkened sidewalk, indicates he hopes to start a new life. Help people like his sister or Castle. If he lives long enough.