|Index||4 reviews in total|
This crime programmer from the end of the Second World War holds interest
a period piece, since it's based on the wartime scarcity of rubber and the
consequent thriving of bootleg-tire rings. When a wealthy young man, all
set for a night of boozing and dining at a roadhouse called The
finds his roadster stripped of his tires, his buddy hands him a card.
Within minutes, a dealer shows up, but instead of Ecstasy or crystal meth,
`brand-new' tires are the contraband. But when the drunken young
takes a curve at 100 miles an hour, a blowout sends him and his date to
kingdom come. He bought not only the plantation but lethal knockoffs -
equivalent of what a quarter-century later would be bad
The bulk of the story revolves around police attempts to crack the ruthless ring, and it devolves into Irish-American stereotypes that might be offensive if they weren't so quaint. A couple of brothers named Harrigan (Richard Travis and Charles Lang) are at loggerheads; one's an honest cop, the other a hooligan mixed up in the phony-rubber ring. To make matters worse, one's named Pat and the other Mike (and to make them worse still, the girl they're both sweet on is named Kitty Kelly - Eleanor Parker, in a sliver of a role). Good cop Pat pretends to go bad to infiltrate the gang, but there's already a bad cop on the force, one who's head man in the racket. The Last Ride is all pretty routine, barely saved by its glimpse into a vanished style of petty crime.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a low-budget B-movie that is, frankly, quite unusual. I have no
idea if the film has any truth to it. Yes, I know that rubber and many
other materials were rationed during WWII and I assume some folks used
the black market to cheat and get these products. But according to "The
Last Ride", organized crime sold defective tires...tires that KILL!!!
My assumption is that this was just alarmist propaganda designed to get
everyone behind the war effort and to scare people from considering
buying from disreputable sources.
The film begins with some rich slackers partying...when they should be out fighting fascism. One goes to his car and sees that some scum-bag has stolen his tires! Well, considering that the tires were rationed, he has no idea how he can get new ones...until his slick friend tells him that he just got brand new tires from some folks he knows. Sure, they are crooks, but after all, they reason...who is getting hurt?! Well, wouldn't you know it but the tires are defective and soon two of these fun loving young slackers are dead!!! This is only the beginning of this film--the rest of it is about the undercover effort to catch the gang and figure out who is 'Mr. Big'! Despite the plot being preachy and a bit dumb, the film actually was well made for a B-movie. Decent acting and a decent script manage to make this odd curio watchable. It's not a great film, but it's pretty interesting despite its shortcomings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Take a story idea and keep racket line blank. Change it based on the
newest scam, alter character names and add enough action and tough
sounding dialog to make it seem fresh with new twists. If it's not
accident insurance, it's tabloid journalism, allotment wives or maybe
even tainted medication. Ever since "Little Caesar", crime has run
rampant on the Warner Brothers lot, lasting well into the 1950's. The
stars have changed to reflect the youthening list of new contract
players, some of whom went onto bigger and better things, and a few who
disappeared as fast as they were discovered.
The racket of the hour here is rubber, as in tires, and cheaply made tires forged with a name brand have caused car accidents leading to death. Considering the rubber shortage due to a war being on, the fed's are determined to put a stop to this racket before any more deaths (through murder as well as accidental) occur.
Newcomers Richard Travis and Eleanor Parker headline this one, and while Parker went onto a career highlighted by four Oscar nominations, Travis ended up a B lister. The film moves steadily, but it's just one cliché after another, although a few shocking moments do gather attention. It's typical Warner Brothers brash entertainment, rushing by in an hour, so you won't be bored. It's just too bad you may find yourself saying 10 minutes in, "Here we go again!"
The Last Ride (1944)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Bizarre but entertaining "B" movie from Warner deals with the classic tale of a good brother going up against the bad one. In this film, the good guy (Richard Travis) happens to be a detective trying to crack of the case of some bootleg tires being sold around the town and which has caused the death of a couple kids. The bad brother (Charles Lang) works for the underground operation and clashes with his brother over the rights to do so. THE LAST RIDE is a pretty entertaining gem that works for a number of reasons but one of the biggest is its story. I've seen quite a few crime pictures were all sorts of things were being stolen or illegally sold but this is the first one where those items were tires. This actually made for a pretty interesting set up early on and I really liked the racket these guys were running of stealing tires, then making those victims order new tires from them. I think things get a bit watered down towards the end when we start to get into more of the bad vs. good brother subplot, which is one we've seen countless times. Director D. Ross Lederman does a pretty good job at keeping the film moving at a very fast pace and it should be noted that it clocks in at just 58-minutes so there's certainly no down time. Both Travis and Lang fit into their roles very nicely and we get some nice support from Eleanor Parker, Jack LaRue and the always dependable Cy Kendall. THE LAST RIDE certainly isn't going to be found on lists containing the greatest movies ever made but it's certainly unique enough to where it's worth viewing.
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