B Gangster Movie. The eponymous "Soho" is in London, not Manhattan. The rather dull tale takes place in the fancy night club run by the American gangster, Jack La Rue, which I suppose would be "Jack of the street" in French -- if his real name weren't Gaspare Biondilillo. His dark, villainous looks and his oily performance, come out one step below George Raft. He annoys me even more because I keep getting him mixed up with "Lash" La Rue. They're simply going to have to change their names post mortem if I'm going to keep them straight.
Bernard Lee, in a prominent role, is almost unrecognizably youthful as an ambitious reporter. Arthur O'Connell IS unrecognizable as one of La Rue's goons except for one monstrous five-second close up. The woman in question, a blond mole working for the police, is Sandra Storme, who can't really act and isn't especially beautiful, but who has an angular and fragile figure that prompts thoughts of nurturance in the viewer. She looks as if you could take one of her long bones and snap it in two like a breadstick in an Italian restaurant.
I'm kind of just skimming the plot because it's not very original or even interesting. One of La Rue's gangster subordinates threatens to take over the mob or go to the police. He produces a pistol. La Rue shoots him dead and the other goons dump the body in a doorway on the street. The police inspector, Walker Martin, who is always poking people and things with his brolly, suspects La Rue and his gang and enlists the aid of chorus girl Storme to get enough evidence to convict him.
There are a couple of cute and amusing scenes. When the inspector shows up at a murder scene, the two thugs act as if the dead body is merely a sick friend who had a "rough crossing" on the ferry. "His temperature is going' down, boss. I think he's getting' better." "I don't think he'll get any worse."
And when the inspector asks Googie Withers if she knows anyone who might have murdered the victim, she replies in all sincerity, "All I can think of is that it must have been someone who didn't like him very much."
Here's the most nearly original element of the plot. Jack La Rue's character -- who has "ideas above his station" as the Brits might put it -- calls for an outright greedy, egocentric, and libidinous thug. Instead the writers have made him almost sympathetic, despite all that snarling. It's easy to sympathize with him when the realization that he's been betrayed by a spy he was in love with finally sinks in.
Ditto at the climax. La Rue is about to flee to France with all his money but stops for a last look around his night club where dozens of customers are enjoying themselves. A former girl friend sneaks up behind him. La Rue had dismissed her earlier: "I don't mean to be unkind but you've got no class." But La Rue, for all his canniness, has forgotten that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
The first hour drags monotonously. Bernard Miles has nothing to do but show up once in a while until he can collect the virtuous blond at the end. The film matures a bit during its last half hour.