Review

  • This would have been very good as a 50 minute episode of an hour long TV crime drama series. The extra 20 minutes could easily be cut from the padding I mention, and a harder hitting more focused tale would be the result.

    The film opens with a narration about the perfect crime - How to steal war surplus contraband worth 250 thousand dollars from a cargo freighter with no confrontation, nobody the wiser. Then the narration ends and we see that this has been a short film presentation by Jordan (John Russell) who is pitching this to a crime boss whose financial backing he needs. I can imagine that is true, because in 1957 making such a film that involves a freighter and a cast of hundreds would not be easy or cheap. It's not like you could just shoot it on your IPhone Pro.

    Jordan gets the backing he wants, but then he makes a series of bad moves, all involving the cast of accomplices he picks. He needs a nurse, an actual maritime health inspector, and somebody to pretend he is lost at sea that is rescued by the freighter. The problems are in the nurse - she is actually the crime boss' girlfriend who is not a nurse, and the "lost at sea" guy - he is a junkie, unknown to Jordan. Junkies are characteristically undependable, a slave to their habit, and the fake nurse will have to ride around in an ambulance for a few days as an actual nurse before the heist. What if the ambulance driver starts tossing medical jargon at her like "banana bag" and tarchy?? What if she is asked to start an IV? The results could be grisly or at least malpractice.

    I found a couple of more questions that were never answered. For one, how does Jordan know that a particular freighter has war surplus drugs onboard? Also, definitely a plot faux pas if you are diabetic. It is never a good thing for your blood sugar to "shoot straight up", and that means more insulin if it does happen, not less. But I digress.

    On the positive side what this film lacks in logic and meaningful dialogue it definitely has in noir imagery. In particular, there are some great shots of a mass grave of the LA trolley cars towards the end. If you watched and remember "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", you'll remember that the trolley cars being abandoned in the late 40s weighed heavily into the plot of that film. Also, John Russell is great as ruthless villain Jordan, with his severe features and always dressed like a 50s insurance salesman. In fact he winds up being a little too ruthless for his own good.