DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

CONFIDENCE GIRL (director/writer: Andrew L. Stone; cinematographer: William H. Clothier; editor: Virginia Stone; music:  Lucien Cailliet; cast: (Hillary Brooke (Mary Webb), Tom Conway (Roger Kingsley), Jack Kruschen (Detective Sergeant Quinn), Eddie Marr (Johnny Gregg), Dan Riis (Lt. Fenton), John Gallaudet (Chief Brownell), Walter Kingsford (Mr. Markewell), Roy Engel (Store Detective Walsh), Tyler McVey (2nd Detective), Paul Guilfoyle (William Pope), Aline Towne (Peggy Speel), Edmund Cobb (Detective Lieutenant Cobb), Helen Van Tuyl (Maggie, maid), Duke York (Nightclub Accomplice with Binoculars), Charlie Collins (Charlie), Paul Livermore (Hal Speel), Leo Cleary (Andrew Sheridan), Michael Vallon (Downs, lawyer), Sheriff Eugene W. Biscailuz (Himself), Truman Bradley (Narrator); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Andrew L. Stone; United Artist; 1952)

"Realistic tale of swindlers that never captures the imagination, as it documents how con artists operate."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Andrew L. Stone ("Hi Diddle Diddle"/"Night Holds Terror"/"Julie"), a director I'm partial to, is writer-director of this realistic tale of swindlers that never captures the imagination, as it documents how con artists operate. It's told Dragnet-style with a narrator (Truman Bradley). The anti-hero villains--former fiddler Mary Webb (Hillary Brooke) partners with sharpie mastermind con man Roger Kingsley (Tom Conway)--and move their operation from NYC to LA. The ballsy Roger, a smooth talking insurance investigator, convinces a NYC insurance agent Andrew Sheridan (Leo Cleary) that the notorious Mary Webb is responsible for a number of insurance scams and he has info that she plans next to rob a mink coat in LA. With a letter of introduction from Sheridan, the LA chief of detectives Brownell (John Gallaudet) okays Roger's involvement with his bunco men in the possible mink shoplifting and partners him with the store detective (Roy Engel). After Mary's arrest, Roger lets her go and tells the bunco cops she pulled a gun on him.

Roger then has Mary swindle $8,000 from greedy pawnbroker Markwell (Walter Kingsford), over the sale of a pawned violin. The bunco squad chief Lt. Fenton (Dan Riis) and his diligent partner Sgt. Quinn (Jack Kruschen) tag along with Roger, whose next con job involves working with shady nightclub owner Johnny Gregg (Eddie Marr) to pump up Mary as the sensational phony clairvoyant named Laslee. How she can read the minds of the guests onstage baffles the experienced bunco detectives. But we see how she gets her ESP from hidden microphones in the tables and rest rooms, and from hidden room cameras like those in gambling casinos. Roger hopes to take the life savings from the suckers who believe her act and ask for private readings. The police suspect Laslee is a fake and are wary about Roger but have nothing on him; that is, until Mary has a change of heart and gives herself up to the bunco men rather than be responsible for a crooked dentist about to be murdered by a crooked lawyer over an accidental cyanide murder. That overheard tidbit was to be used in her act and get her newspaper headlines, which would have, according to Roger, convinced the public she was on the level.

The minor B-film is at its best for its atmospheric location shots within the halls of the LA County Jail, and the onscreen prologue of the long-time real-life Sheriff Eugene W. Biscailuz adding authenticity as he tells us crime doesn't pay. Confidence Girl is about two unsympathetic swindlers, who can't stop their crime spree without being arrested. Too bad
its con jobs are overplayed and the action never becomes compelling.

REVIEWED ON 9/1/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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