Kleptomaniac Dorothy Lyons is paroled from prison in custody of her sister June, secretary to "reform" political candidate Frank Jansen. Ben Grace, associate of crime boss Sol Caspar, sees this as a way to smear Jansen's campaign. But after falling out with Caspar, Ben tries to help June, who he begins to fall for. Sexy Dorothy also has a yen for Ben. June is reluctantly forced to go along with Ben's schemes, but there may be more to these than meets the eye...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A man in a bar says that, when the new mayor is elected, "this town will be so quiet you can eat your dinner off the sidewalk." Obviously, he should have said that the town would be clean, not quiet. See more »
Let's see if we can beat him down.
[after throwing a body out of an upper story wondow]
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Amazing cinematography and art direction in late noirish melodrama
Anyone remotely interested in cinematography and art direction should see this. John Alton, chiefly famous for his work in black and white, here switches to livid colour and achieves some of the most daring and moody effects ever known in colour films. This was a decade before 'flashing' the film became popular (a technique developed by Freddie Young, who told me all about it at the time he began the trend, with Lumet's 'Deadly Affair'). Everything here is so vivid, and the games played with colour in choice of sofas, walls, carpets, not to mention hair, are so intense, that the film is really chiefly of interest for all of that. Alton had to work only with variations in lighting, not with film processing possibilities. What he did is incredibly audacious, worth watching over and over just to study it. He has whole figures in shadow, and faces often are eclipsed by darkness in a bright room. It is really an incredibly dazzling display of virtuosity and genius. The two lead gals have matching hair, which plays well on the sets. Rhonda Fleming was a notorious strawberry blonde, and although I seem to recall that Arlene Dahl was really a normal blonde and presumably had her hair died to match Fleming's for this film, here they are very like the sisters they play indeed, with matching peachy hair and bright blue eyes. It is all a symphony of light and dark and colour combinations, like a modernist painting. The story is tepid, diluted from a James Cain novel about city corruption and crime. Arlene Dahl is not very convincing as a kleptomaniac siren who is supposed to be deeply psychologically disturbed (that part only comes out at the end, though we know about the thefts from the beginning, as the film begins with her coming out of prison). Rhonda Fleming swings her hefty bust around with confidence, and glares with her blue eyes at people as she challenges them, which with her fiery nature she does a lot. Into this mix comes a very seedy character played by John Payne, who by this time was really getting a little too old for such roles, nice fellow though he was. However, a sufficiently noirish tale ensues which is worth watching, though it is not a proper film noir, but merely has certain elements of that left, as the mid-1950s were asserting themselves, and people were getting more interested in Debbie Reynolds and Doris Day, and the War was a fading memory, and even the Korean War was passé by this time. Yes, things were changing, people were getting cheerier and more bourgeois by the minute, and gloom was no longer so popular, or must be relegated to horror films instead. Time to lighten up! So this is an interesting historical curiosity, a lingering shadow cast over the smiling face of a complacent Middle America which was just settling down to a nice long afternoon nap which would last until the sixties.
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