Tight Taut And Tense
Reviewed by maltesefalcon for Tension at 2012-03-23 02:07:10
This film noir has everything. The sultry B movie queen Audrey Totter poised to snakebite our protagonist Richard Baseheart, the ever-lovely Syd Charise (although she is underutilized as window dressing this outing), perennial B movie cop Barry Sullivan & the always reliable William Conrad of TV's "Cannon" fame as law enforcement back up. Add to that a good script by Allen Rivkin, a honeydripping tenor sax-laden Andre Previn score (Bernard Herrman must have listened to this while composing "Taxi Driver") & direction by John Berry & you've got a pretty poisonous noir potion. Berry was a cohort of Orson Welles at the Mercury Theater in New York & took the reins when Welles departed for RKO to make "Citizen Kane". Unfortunately, he was blacklisted not long after making this little gem. Baseheart was a tremendously underrated actor mostly relegated to chatacter roles, but when he was afforded the opportunity, as in this film & "He Walked By Night" (1948), he showed some serious chops. His transition from Casper Milquetoastish Warren Quimby to
suave, devil-may-care John Southern is nothing less than spectacular. Audrey Totter does her Totter thing in the best Gloria Graham tradition & we get some roller coaster twists & turns along the way. MGM's B's were like A's at other studios, so production quality/cinematography are pretty top notch for the time period. All in all, it feels a little better than the sum of it's ingredients, a tight little programmer for all us noir fans & one worth seeking out if you've missed it up till now.