|FOR YOU I DIE (director: John Reinhardt; screenwriter: Robert Presnell Sr.; cinematographer: William Clothier; editors: Stanley Frazen/Jason Bernie; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Cathy Downs (Hope Novak), Paul Langton (Johnny Coulter), Mischa Auer (Alec Shaw), Roman Bohnen (Smitty), Jane Weeks (Georgie), Don Harvey ('Matt' Gruber), Charles Waldron Jr. (Patrolman Jerry), Rory Mallinson (Patrolman Mac), Marion Kerby (Maggie Dillon), Mannetta Callejo (Louisa Shaw); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: John Reinhardt/Robert Presnell Sr.; Alpha Home Entertainment; 1947)|
|"Gem of a
Poverty Row film noir."
by Dennis Schwartz
director John Reinhardt ("High
Tide"/"Open Secret"/"Chicago Calling"), a veteran of
small studio thrillers, helms this black and white
shot gem of a Poverty Row film noir. The atmospheric B
crime film is tautly written with snappy dialogue by Robert Presnell
Sr., and is well-acted by the ensemble cast.
Matt Gruber (Don Harvey) forces at
gunpoint Johnny Coulter (Paul
to escape with him from a California prison, as he
needs a truck driver. Johnny is a prison trustee,
with only a year to go to finish his time, and
therefore feels screwed. They go separate ways, as
Matt heads to San Francisco and Johnny is ordered by
Matt to go to a remote countryside diner, some 100
miles from San Francisco, and to get Matt's waitress
girlfriend Hope Novak (Cathy Downs) to
help him hide for a week. Then Matt promises to turn
up at the diner to leave town with Nancy.
church-going owner of the roadside diner is the kindly
Maggie Dillon (Marion Kerby), who hires
Johnny under another name, to pump gas. Maggie is the
aunt of the slutty waitress, Georgie (Jane
Weeks), who has the hots for the fugitive and
tells the good girl Nancy, still recovering from her
sad past and her regrettable youthful mistakes, that
he's 'exciting, almost like having a wild animal for a
Warning: spoiler in the paragraph.
Nancy and Johnny fall in love, discovering they're kindred spirits. Their problem is what to do when the crazed Matt appears, who killed a cop that week in San Francisco. When Matt shows up a day early flashing a rod and insists on taking Nancy with him, a showdown takes place and the heroic alcoholic grill man, Smitty (Roman Bohnen), takes a bullet to save Johnny but in the fracas wounds Matt. It ends on a soap opera happy note, with Johnny turning the wounded killer fugitive over to the cops and the killer, if you believe, confesses he forced Johnny to escape with him. Thereby Johnny returns to serve a year in prison and Nancy promises to wait for the reformed criminal at the roadside diner.
REVIEWED ON 5/10/2014 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ