Street of Missing Men (1939)

Approved   |    |  Drama


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20 August 2016 | AlsExGal
| Another misnamed Universal flick post Laemmle...
... because this film is not about a thoroughfare or men who are supposed to be living there, and yet I liked it! It has some familiar themes, and some that are not so familiar.

The film opens with Cash Darwin (Charles Bickford) getting out of prison and swearing vengeance against Charles Putnam (Harry Carey) of the Clarion newspaper whose articles put him behind bars. He walks right into Putnam's office with a gun and says he is taking him on a ride, the kind you don't come back from. Putnam has a last request - a last meal at a fancy restaurant? And Darwin agrees? It is a bit of a hoot to see these two sipping wine and Darwin talking about how much he is going to enjoy killing Putnam. Meanwhile, Putnam's wife has figured out what is going on and bursts in on the two with the police in tow. The gun that the police find when they frisk Darwin means it's back to the slammer for him. However, Putnam claims that Cash is working for him and he just hadn't had time to get the gun permit yet.

Why did Putnam do this? He wants to hire Cash to stop the gangland warfare against his paper and the people who sell and distribute it. You see, Putnam has been gathering evidence and publishing articles about gangster Mike Reardon, hoping to stir up support for his arrest and the smashing of his syndicate. Reardon is not taking this lying down. Strangely Cash agrees to Putnam's job offer, or does he?

Cash is a "nobody is on the level, why should I be" type, and it is awhile whether you know if he is really planning to help Putnam, who indeed saved him from the slammer a second time, or if he is double crossing him and working for Reardon to avenge his original prison sentence. Bickford, always great, never gives anything away with his great poker face. However, he does have one soft spot. That spot would be a homeless newsboy selling the Clarion on street corners. He buys the kid a dog and has him move into his apartment. Maybe Cash sees himself as a boy in the kid, and wants to be there for him so he doesn't go down the wrong path.

How does this end up? I'll let you watch and find out, though good luck finding a copy. Just one hint. At one point Cash does something so despicable that you just know that the production code is going to demand he be punished in some way. This one is short but good.




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