(director/writer: Richard Fleischer; screenwriters: from
a story by Robert Angus & Robert Leeds/Gerald
Drayson Adams/Earl Felton; cinematographer: Guy Roe;
editor: Desmond Marquette; cast: Charles McGraw (Lt. Jim
Codell), Adele Jergens (Yvonne), William Talman (Dave
Purvis), Douglas Fowley (Benny), Steve Brodie (Al
Mapes), Don McGuire (Ryan), Don Haggerty (Cuyler),
James Flavin (Phillips), Gene Evans (Ace Foster);
Runtime: 68; RKO; 1950
"An exciting film noir robbery escapade set in LA."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An exciting film noir robbery escapade set in LA, one that set the standard. The film focuses on William Talman as the vicious leader of the hoods, Dave Purvis as a criminal mastermind. The hard-nosed Charles McGraw is Lt. Jim Codell, the detective trying to nail the cop killer and robber.
Purvis is a very careful man, with no police record, someone who moves frequently, changes his name often, requires his pals to memorize his phone number and not write anything down, as his aim is to leave no loose ends.
Purvis's pal Benny McBride (Fowley) is a burlesque promoter married to a star burlesque queen Yvonne (Jergens). Benny's financially on the ropes and troubled that he loves her so much and is scared of losing her as she threatens to leave him for the feller she's having a secret affair with unless he comes up with some big dough. He sees a way to get that money through Purvis' scheme and thereby sets Purvis up with two low-level hoods, Al Mapes (Brodie) and Ace Foster (Evans), as Purvis tells them of his plans to heist an armored car that will make its last stop in front of LA's Wrigley Field.
The robbery doesn't go off as planned, as a patrol car cruising that area responds and Purvis kills Codell's longtime partner, Lt. Phillips, while Codell seriously wounds Benny. Codell is assigned a rookie cop, Danny Ryan (McGuire), as a replacement.
The gang switches cars and changes into oil-field worker uniforms in Long Beach, CA, as they try to avoid a roadblock while heading to their waterfront hideout. When Purvis kills Benny because he insists on getting a doctor, Ace ditches the car with his body in it by the pier but is spotted by a patrol car. When the three try to escape by motorboat, Ace gets killed, Mapes escapes on the boat, while Purvis has all the money and escapes by foot to contact Yvonne. He's been having a secret affair with her and the two plan to skip town together in two weeks when her stripper contract is up. This leads to the action-filled conclusion.
Director Richard Fleischer shot the film in a taut manner, while the photographs of the dark LA locale added grit. Fleischer got a fine performance from McGraw as the relentless cop out to get the one who killed his partner and from Talman as the menacing mastermind of the gang, and also from Jergens as the twisted sexpot who knows how to entice men.
REVIEWED ON 9/8/2001 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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