Miami Exposé (1956) Poster

(1956)

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Grade-B crime thriller pumped up with topical padding and location shooting
BrianDanaCamp26 May 2008
"Miami Exposé" was one of a whole wave of crime dramas about American cities in the "exposé" or "confidential" mode turned out by Hollywood in the wake of the Kefauver Senate hearings into organized crime's influence in politics, government and private industry. There were films on New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Miami, and even Portland (PORTLAND EXPOSÉ, 1957). Most of these films were grade-B gangster melodramas padded out with "documentary" segments, a few location sequences, and filmed introductions by actual elected officials insuring the "accuracy" of what we're about to see and warning of the dangers of letting criminal organizations run untrammeled over our public institutions.

"Miami Exposé" (1956) opens with an address to the camera by Randy Christmas, the then-Mayor of Miami, who basically introduces the film and describes a generic plot that has little to do with what the film is actually about. The plot that unfolds is a hackneyed tale of a wealthy criminal lawyer whose aim is to take over the gambling racket in Florida by pushing through a bill to make gambling legal and then controlling the state apparatus himself. The character is named Ray Sheridan and he's played by Alan Napier, a tall, elegant English actor best known for playing Alfred, Bruce Wayne's butler, on the TV series, "Batman." ("Holy Miscasting, Batman, Alfred's a Florida crime boss!") Sheridan enlists the state's top lobbyist, Oliver Tubbs, to drum up support for the bill among the business and civic leaders of Florida. Tubbs is played by Edward Arnold, in his final film role, the actor who'd once portrayed high-powered tycoons and power brokers in Frank Capra's MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and MEET JOHN DOE, but is reduced here to visiting honest civic leaders in their homes and trying to blackmail them into supporting the bill, only to get kicked out.

The big problem here, aside from the complete and unlikely absence of the Mafia in any step of this operation, is that Sheridan uses two-bit thugs out of Central Casting to kill people who get in his way, including a veteran homicide detective, thereby arousing the ire of the police and getting them mad enough to pull out all the stops to nip this whole thing in the bud. When your criminal mastermind is such a bonehead as this one, then there's not a whole lot of suspense generated.

Lee J. Cobb plays the righteous Lt. Barton Scott, who travels to Havana to bring back a reluctant key witness, Lila Hodges (Patricia Medina), the widow of a murdered gangster. Only two years earlier, Cobb had played corrupt union boss Johnny Friendly in ON THE WATERFRONT and one can't help but feel that the criminals in this film would have been better served with Cobb on their side and not against them.

The sad thing is that, despite the script's howlers, the film is very well shot and directed, with many scenes filmed on location in Florida, including an action scene in the Everglades, and a few in pre-Castro Havana. At a snappy 73 minutes, it moves very well and includes some colorful supporting players who aim for a touch of authenticity, including Michael Granger as a wily Havana-based gangster who's actually on the side of the police (so THAT's where the Mafia is), and Harry Lauter as a brave detective assigned to protect the witness in a cabin in the Everglades that comes under attack from Sheridan's thugs. Patricia Medina plays Lila with a well-blended mix of sauciness, bitterness, cynicism, fear and near-hysteria in one scene. Her character doesn't really soften until the very end when she's pushed to her limit and finds long-dormant reserves of courage. It's actually quite touching, an interesting moment of believable human behavior amidst a welter of contrivances.

Ultimately, though, when the best a movie about Miami crime can offer in the way of villains is the butler's butler, Alan Napier, and a waning Edward Arnold (who was already dead when this movie was released), then it's time to dig out Brian De Palma's SCARFACE (1983) or the "Miami Vice" TV series, just for a little reality check.
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6/10
All I want to know is why your having me sharpen all these pencils at once!
sol121812 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** You know right away that "Miami Expose" isn't pulling any punches when it's introduced by the mayor of the city Randy Christmas himself in the evils of illegal and mob controlled gambling with mobsters from all over the country flocking to town to set up shop. Our hero Sgt. and later Let. Burt Scott gets involved with all this when his boss and good friend at the Miami PD Capt. Harry Elkins gets himself killed investigating a murder at the Cromwell Hotel in downtown Miami. The murder besides Elkins' was Las Vages hood Joe Hodgers who together with local mob boss Louis "Big Louie" Ascot was planning to get control of the city's gambling establishment when it's hopefully, for them, voted into law in the upcoming November elections.

The one thing that went wrong in Hodgers' murder, besides Capt. Elkins getting snuffed, is that Hodgers' old lady Lila had checked out of town to Havana in order to lay low until the coast is clear, and the heats off, for her to return to the states! It's the person behind Rodgers' murder high powered criminal lawyer, as well as big time criminal himself, Ray Sheridan who desperately want's Lila iced, or killed, in order to keep her quiet about his big plans for the city of Miami before she talks or is forced to talk about them to the Miami police and State District Arttorney!

Lt. Scott who was planning to retire now goes all out to find Capt. Elkins' murderer that leads him to Havana Cuba where he tracks down Lila who's under mob boss "Big Louie" Ascot's protection. Surviving two murder attempts from Sheridan's top hit-man the bumbling Morrie Pell Lila is put into protective custody,with her death being faked by Lt. Scott and the police pathologist,in the far off snake and alligator infested Everglades swamps. That in order to get her to expose in a future trial Sheridan's criminal plans that he has in store for the city of Miami. It was Sheridan's big mistake in having one of his stooges Miami political hack Oliver Tubbs get to blackmail upstanding citizen and Miami king-maker Henry Treemont to go along with his plan by endorsing it. That in fact turns out to be both his and Tubbs' downfall.

***SPOILERS*** Documentary style movie that hits the spot in how the mob, or in the case of mobbed up lawyer Ray Sheridan, tries to get control of a city and then milks it for all it's worth. It was in Sheridan feeling that Lila was out of the picture, in her being killed, that made him trip himself up by having Treemont gunned down by his hit-man Morrie Pell that set the stage for his ultimate demise. That came in the end when Oliver Tubbs who finally saw the light in that Sheridan was setting him up to be the fall guy in his criminal operation if in fact it was uncovered who blew him away to cover his own behind.

P.S "Miami Expose" turned out to be veteran and popular character actor Edward Arnold's, who played Oliver Tubbs, last motion picture appearance. Arnold who looked like death warmed over in the movie passed away in April 1956 some five months before the film was released.
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3/10
Shot in Miami
wes-connors23 May 2009
Police detective Lee J. Cobb (as Barton "Bob" Scott), who wants to retire in two years, fights off gangland efforts by crooked attorney Alan Napier (Ray Sheridan) and stocky partner-in-crime Edward Arnold (Oliver Tubbs), who want to turn Miami into a southeastern Las Vegas. After a fatal shooting, Mr. Cobb must protect sexy Patricia Medina (as Lila Hodges), who witnessed the killing of Cobb's police captain...

It you can stand to watch "Miami Exposé" until the end, you may want to know why Cobb's fiancée, a police widow, includes son Barry Connors (as Stevie Easton) on a cabin trip with a woman targeted for assassination. Couldn't safety-conscious Eleanore Tanin (as Ann Easton) find a sitter? Well, the shootout was fun… This was silent film actor, "Diamond Jim" star, and character actor Edward Arnold's final film.

*** Miami Exposé (9/56) Fred F. Sears ~ Lee J. Cobb, Patricia Medina, Edward Arnold
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3/10
Sad ending for a great career
reginadanooyawkdiva22 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I bought this two years ago on VHS. I saw it on TV many years ago and being an avid Edward Arnold fan, I wanted to see it again. I was disappointed that this had to be Arnold's last movie, since he had been in so many great ones (i.e. Diamond Jim, Come and Get It, You Can't Take it With You, etc.) In this one, as the previous reviewer noted, he plays a lobbyist named Oliver Tubbs. (I couldn't help but wonder if they chose this name for him because he was so heavy.) Anyway, he hooks up with Alan Napier, (who is woefully miscast) a crooked lawyer named Sheridan who wants to bring gambling into Florida and wants Tubbs to blackmail everyone he knows to get it passed. (Arnold would have been better suited to have played the Sheridan role.) Somehow, Patricia Medina gets hooked up in this hodgepodge as the femme fatale on the run after her husband is killed by Napier's gang. Add in Lee J. Cobb as a detective trying to avenge his boss' murder (he was killed with Medina's husband...why, I'm still not sure). Lee J. Cobb hides Medina in a shack with his girlfriend and the girlfriend's son and exposes the five year old kid to gratuitous violence. (Way to go, Sherlock!) When Tubbs is accused of one of the people he tried to blackmail's murder, Sheridan tells him to beat it. After a bunch of killings (including the one in front of the kid), the police come to Sheridan's home and they find Tubbs in a daze, gun in his hand and Sheridan dead. They take Tubbs away and Cobb wonders what would have happened if gambling had ever come to Florida.

It's just my speculation, but I think Arnold maybe took the role for the free trip to Miami and Cuba (which was still legal for Americans to go at the time the movie was made.) He seemed like he he had phoned in his role and it's sad that his career ended on such a low note.
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4/10
The Girls with the Chiffon Gowns
LeonLouisRicci1 July 2013
Another standard City Confidential/Expose that perforated the Fifties and most had not much to recommend. The run of supposedly hard-boiled uncovering of dirty dealings and sleazy surroundings usually were less than advertised and almost always dull and disappointing.

This is not one of the better ones. Despite some travelogue scenery and a try at authenticating the whole thing with sombre narration it is all quite unremarkable and is nothing more than pedestrian.

The ending has some really silly things like putting a child in the cross-hairs and an approving lovelorn glance back and forth between a Cop and a reluctant Witness who picks up a Gun and starts firing. This really warms the Heart of our protector and is quite a Screen embarrassment. But that is typical of this whole clunky, stiff, cardboard cutouts of Cops, Bad-guys, and Girls with chiffon gowns.
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8/10
A dandy crime film.
MartinHafer29 October 2013
For me, "Miami Exposé" is a slam-dunk recommendation. Not only is it a good crime film, it features some supporting actors I really enjoy--Edward Arnold (in his last film), Alan Napier and Lee J. Cobb.

The film begins on a seemingly ordinary Sunday. Lt. Scott (Cobb) finishes his shift and heads home while his friend stays to mind the office. A call comes in to the police that someone witnessed a stabbing. This old friend of Scott investigates...and ends up dead! Scott's time off is soon disrupted by a call telling him what's occurred and he vows to get those responsible.

So what's going on--why the double murder? Well, it turns out that this is somehow related to an underworld scheme to legalize gambling in Florida and 'Mr. Big' turns out to be a guy you'd never expect to play such a ruthless role--Alan Napier. Napier is the dignified British actor who played Alfred the Butler on the old "Batman" show--a fine and distinguished guy. Here, however, his British accent has disappeared and he's downright evil--and I really, really liked seeing this casting. Additionally, his toady (Arnold) was fine--especially in the final scene. All in all, this is a tough and enjoyable film. Not among the greats of the genre but well worth your time and quite well written and acted.
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