|THE HOUSTON STORY (director: William Castle; screenwriter: Robert E. Kent-alias James B. Gordon/based on the story by James B. Gordon; cinematographer: Henry Freulich; editor: Edwin Bryant; music: Mischa Bakkaleinikoff; cast: Gene Barry (Frank Duncan ), Jeanne Cooper (Madge), Barbara Hale (Zoe Crane), Edward Arnold (Paul Atlas), Frank Jenks (Louie Phelan), Claudia Bryar (Clara Phelps), John Zaremba (Emile Constant), Jack V. Littlefield (Willie Lucas), Paul Richards (Gordon Shay), Chris Alcaide (Chris Barker), Paul Levitt (Duke), Fred Krone (Marsh), Pete Kellett (Kalo); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Katzman; Columbia Pictures; 1956)|
|"A routine expose racketeering
melodrama on the corporate structure of the
oil industry, that is mildly enjoyable."
by Dennis Schwartz
routine expose racketeering melodrama on the corporate
structure of the oil industry, that is mildly
enjoyable. The programmer is similar to Miami Expose
(1956) and The Miami Story (1954). Future horror pic
maven William Castle ("13 Ghosts"/"The
Tingler"/"Mr. Sardonicus") smoothly directs this minor
film noir, as he adapts to the screen the story by
pulp writer James B. Gordon.
Oklahoma oil driller Frank Duncan (Gene
Barry) is working as a 'wildcatter' in Houston
and has figured out a clever illegal way to siphon oil
from the field by slant drilling. With that in mind,
Frank finds a way to meet the nightclub singer Zoe
Crane (Barbara Hale), the widow of his oil rigger
friend who died in an accident. Zoe's nightclub is
owned by the mob, and her boyfriend Gordon Shay (Paul
Richards) is an underling in the mob. The ballsy Frank
wants to use Zoe's mob connections to make a deal with
the mob's local boss, Paul Atlas (Edward Arnold),
to financially back his crooked scheme. The scheme
calls for Frank setting up as a front a dummy
corporation, in which he induces his unaware cabbie
friend Lou Phelan (Frank Jenks) to be in charge.
Warning: spoiler alert in the next 2
the ambitious Frank has eyes on becoming rich and
powerful, he dumps his good-time waitress girlfriend
Cooper) and goes after the sexy
but dangerous Zoe. Frank finds he fits right in with
the mob and kills one thug to advance in the
organization, and schemes to get Atlas and the
nightclub owner killed by the police. The syndicate's
ruthless chief, Emile Constant (John Zaremba), finds
that Frank is getting too big for his britches and
orders a hit. When Frank learns of this, he asks his
former waitress girlfriend to go to his apartment and
get him clothes so he can go on the run. When Frank
disappears, two mob enforcers beat up Jenks for info.
When that fails they take Zoe hostage, and she tells
them where she expects to meet Frank.
the waitress, wanting no part of her ex-boyfriend's
criminal dealings, calls the cops, who arrive in the
club after Frank disposes of the two enforcer thugs
during a shootout. The weary Frank surrenders to the
police, and will be soon sent to prison for his scheme
proving 'crime does not pay.'
REVIEWED ON 9/19/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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