Saturday, April 23, 2016

THE MAN IN THE VAULT (1956)


This easily forgotten RKO drama stars William Campbell in another of his underwhelming films, this time as an expert but lowly locksmith by the name of Tommy Dancer. Would you trust a locksmith with that underworld name? One cannot judge a book by it’s cover, but in Campbell’s case I will make an exception. Actually, Campbell comes off well in this one with help from other experienced actors. Anita Ekberg not one of them. Adding authenticity are some location filming, like at Art Linkletter’s La Cienega Lanes bowling alley. No kidding. 

The excruciating song, “Let The Chips Fall Where They May” is sung by Vivianne Lloyd in her singing/acting debut and career closer. Barry Kroeger, small-time hoodlum, throws a party at his home and he requests she sing his favorite song. He is obviously fascinated by anyone who can sing different pitches on purpose. Lloyd makes her rounds in a small party room, giving a performance more fitting a nightclub, accompanied by piano and strings. But there are no string players in the room. Her bad lip-sync is very romantic as she blasts Campbell’s eyebrows back from inches away, arching them even more. It is the most embarrassing and funny moment of the film. Why any song was planned for this film is a mystery. Like Lloyd’s career. She actually does a halfway decent job vocally. It is just her awkward lip-sync and expressions which make the viewer sweat.


Cute Karen Sharpe, with incredibly bouncy hair, is at the party because she gets want she wants in that crowd. I think that his her occupation. She is spurned by her on and off again boyfriend/lawyer, played by a Chuck Woolery impersonator. Pouting, she exits the party. Cocky Campbell has had enough of feeling out of place and also leaves, walking past Sharpe. She offers him a lift in her car but neither seem to have a destination. She asks him if he drives. I guess wondering he might not have any experience driving an automatic or unfamiliar with the purpose of that big round ring on the left side of the dash.


Kroeger, who was born to smirk, gets his leg man, Paul Fix, to locate a good locksmith. Kroeger then pressures Campbell to break into a safe deposit box rented by big-time mobster, James Seay, and make a duplicate key. But Fix double-crosses Kroeger and suggests Campbell take the 200k himself. Temptation is acted upon and Campbell stores the money at the bowling alley for a striking finale.

Campbell’s running is unintentionally comical near the end, arms swinging back and forth, left to right. I burst out laughing. Fix, after killing Kroeger with an Oldsmobile, goes after the 200k with Campbell only armed with a bowling pin. Funny? He throws it through a window and sets off the burglar alarm. Smart. Paul is in a fix by then and is quickly apprehended. Meanwhile, mob boss Seay is charged with murder and Campbell reunites with Sharpe, the dominant driver. Campbell has some explaining to do at police headquarters after turning over the money.

Two humorous notes. The shady lawyer is played by Robert KEYS and there is a visit to the Hollywood BOWL. Coincidence? I think not.

No comments:

Post a Comment