EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SHORT CUT TO HELL (director: James Cagney; screenwriters: from the novel A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene/Albert Maltz/W.R. Burnett/Ted Berkman/Raphael Blau; cinematographer: Haskell B. Boggs; editor: Tom McAdoo; music: Irvin Talbor; cast: Georgann Johnson (Glory Hamilton), Robert Ivers (Kyle Niles), Jacques Aubuchon (Bahrwell), William Bishop (Sgt. Stan Lowery), Murvyn Vye (Nichols), Peter Baldwin (Carl Adams), Richard Hale (A. T.), Danny Lewis (Danny, the piano player), Sarah Selby (Secretary), Milton Frome (LAPD captain), Yvette Vickers (Daisy, hotel manager's daughter); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: A.C. Lyles; Paramount; 1957)|
|"The only film
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The only film directed by
James Cagney, done as a favor to producer Alex Gordon. It's a remake of
1942 Alan Ladd-Veronica Lake film This Gun for Hire. The taut noir film
is based on the novel A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene and is
written by Albert Maltz, W.R.
Burnett, Ted Berkman and Raphael Blau.
Ruthless hitman Kyle (Robert
Ivers), who likes cats better than
he does people, goes to Oakland, California, where he's hired for a
$1,000 by the slimy Bahrwell
(Jacques Aubuchon) to bump off the new honest building
inspector Carl Adams (Peter Baldwin) and the crooked secretary (Sarah
Selby) in the City
Engineering Department. When paid off in marked bills
from a payroll robbery, the cops try to arrest Kyle for paying off his
hotel bill with the marked money. The incensed Kyle, after running away
from the police, vows to get even with Fatso Bahrwell, and goes
on-the-run and hops a train to LA after learning from a nightclub piano
player Fatso is from there. On the train Kyle takes aspiring nightclub
singer Glory Hamilton (Georgann
Johnson) hostage, and both land in LA but go their separate
Glory's boyfriend is straight-arrow Oakland detective
sergeant Stan Lowery (William
Bishop), in charge of the murder
investigation in the Adams case, who like this viewer wonders how his
do-gooder girlfriend ends up in Bahrwell's North Hollywood place, where
she's kept there against her will by Bahrwell and tortured to get info
on the location of Kyle by Fatso's evil chauffeur (Murvyn Vye). Since
Bahrwell saw her on the train with Kyle, he assumes she knows him.
Bahrwell's boss is the corrupt real
estate developer A. T. (Richard
who has given his underling 24 hours to kill Kyle or else. A. T.
ordered the hit on the building inspector when caught using faulty
steel for his new construction job and the notorious cheapskate boss
ordered the payment in marked bills to recoup his money after Kyle's
Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.
third act becomes too predictable and too unbelievable as to why Glory
decides to put herself in great danger to aid this creepy psycho
killer. It has Kyle and willing hostage Glory trapped in a huge factory
by the police, but he escapes with the help of Glory. The obsessed Kyle
then forces the chauffeur to drive him to A. T.'s mansion, where he
gets on tape Bahrwell's confession of the contract hit and guns down
the two heavies before the police gun him down.
Cagney creates a good overall film noir atmosphere for his double-cross thriller and the unknown actors do a decent job, but there were too many holes in the story and it ends up less credible than the original.
REVIEWED ON 7/20/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ