2 January 2014 | krocheav
TV Dressed as Cinema
If you enjoy or grew up with 50s - 60s TV, then you could like this film. The story is not bad, it just doesn't get the treatment it deserves. Director/Producer Joseph Kane: of Republic serials, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers fame is in Television mode with this feature.
The best performances are given by the prolific (and once Oscar nominated) actor: Gene Lockhart ("The Sea Wolf" etc). Luther Adler: (ex Broadway Director) an always believable professional, excels as the sophisticated crime boss who'll stop at nothing to protect his empire. You may remember him from: "The Desert Fox"'51 ~ "The Last Angry Man" 59, ~ "The Brotherhood" '68) he adds a good degree of class to this mild Republic picture. A fair main lead is given by John Russell in a pre TV's "Lawman" role. Brian Donlevy is reliable, if a little wasted, as the Kefauver type character.
Although the script is inspired by the Kefauver criminal activities investigations, its believability sadly stops there. Good lines (with strong statements of fact) are given a superficial TV treatment. Art Direction, Set Decoration, Music, Photography, are also along the style of TV. Although the Cinematographer Reggie Lanning worked with the great Buster Keaton ("The Cameraman" '28) and is also known for "The Wake of the Red Witch" (along with this Director) at this time, both men were crossing over to TV. The richly textured detail of well made 40s films is missing here.
Writer: Robert Considine (A.K.F. his collaboration on 'Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo') was an ex Hearst journalist (noted for using two typewriters at once) he also had close writing associations with several American Presidents.
The two leading ladies: 1. Clair Trevor, gets to wear many sets of 50s clothing 'styles' (some OK, others slightly ridiculous) and chews the scenery in accord with the script. She's done far better. 2. Vera Ralston, ex Czechoslovakian ice skater ~ brought to Hollywood by Republic Pictures boss Herbert J.Yates, as his 'Protege' (and later wife) is mildly pretty and tries earnestly enough.
If not overly discerning, watch this for a couple of good performances, a well intended basic story (smashing the corrupt slot machine racket) or as a 'time' piece. This film has been called 'Noir' by some, but it's basically Television. The Olive DVD transfer release is of recommendable high quality.