29 June 2013 | AlsExGal
Good noir has some unexpected twists and some provocative situations
Now this film does have its faults and plot holes - an able-bodied able-minded engineer in post-war America (Richard Denning as "Buzz") who is living life as a drifter in need of a job, an alcoholic lawyer, not practicing for years who doesn't have the money for a drink or a smoke but DOES have a home and plenty of food AND an exotic pet, and plenty of people turning up murdered and yet the police who are apparently not corrupt can't figure out who has done what but really do enjoy slapping suspects around.
The story revolves around a feuding brother (Reno) and sister (Lilly). Lilly inherited three oil wells, and brother Reno inherited just one, yet Lilly wants Reno's well too because Reno shot Lilly's fiancé in an argument over gambling. It was judged a justifiable shooting, but considering how poor the legal system works in this town, maybe Lilly has a point with her legal dissatisfaction. Buzz agrees to help Reno bring in his well...in a small town where the sister is known to cause trouble of both the economic and physical kind for anybody who gets in her way? In 1950 why didn't he just get a job with an oil company? Because then we'd have no story.
This film is very sexually provocative for 1950, considering the production code was still in full force. My assumption was that Terry and Reno were husband and wife - they are in and out of each other's hotel rooms without knocking and just give off that impression. But they are not married. The conclusions are unspoken but inevitable. Also, wealthy vindictive sister Lilly seems to be married to somebody who has lost her interest and respect. Well, he (James Griffith as Walter) has lost her interest and respect, but they are not married either although Walter is apparently living at Lilly's home. Again the conclusions are unspoken but inevitable. Also, Lilly seems to be laying every man in town who is involved in the oil business. This is apparently how she keeps them under her thumb - that and money. Don't these guys ever compare notes or do they care? Again, quite sexually frank for 1950.
Don't let the clichés in the opening moments of the film fool you - things are not as they appear. I'd recommend this one as a good but not great film noir.