Hard, withdrawn city cop Jim Wilson roughs up one too many suspects and is sent upstate to help investigate the murder of a young girl in the winter countryside. There he meets Mary Malden,... See full summary »
A man who spent his formative years in prison for murder is released, and struggles to adjust to the outside world and escape his lurid past. He gets involved with a cheap dancehall girl, ... See full summary »
The 4th film of the Columbia series based on the CBS radio program, "The Whistler", finds wealthy John Sinclair, with no health or friends, being advised by his doctor to take a long ... See full summary »
Gangster Frank Olins is to die in the gas chamber much to the dismay of his girlfriend Margot Shelby as he is carrying the secret of the location of $400,000 with him. Margot seduces gangster Jim Vincent to get him to engineer the removal of Olins' body from the prison immediately after he dies in the gas chamber. She takes prison doctor Craig away from his nurse/girl friend and gets him to administer an antidote for cyanide gas poisoning. During the removal of Olins' body, the hearse driver is killed by Tommy. The revived Olins gives Margot half of a map showing the money location and Vincent, in a fit of jealousy, kills Olins and takes the other half. Because the doctor's plates on his car will get them through the police roadblocks, Vincent and Margot take him with them on the money hunt. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The following snipe was stapled and pasted on all of the printed material sent to the exhibitors that booked this film: IMPORTANT! The Motion Picture Association's Advisory Council has urgently requested that there be no mention of specific poisons in publicizing "DECOY." Please eliminate all names of poisons (such as cyanide or methylene blue) from the publicity, exploitation and advertising on this picture. See more »
As the camera dollies up on Sgt. Portugal as he reads the note taken from the money box, you can clearly she the shadow of the boom microphone go across his face. See more »
Sergeant Joe Portugal:
[Reading a note]
To you who double-crossed me... I leave this dollar for your trouble. The rest of the dough, I leave to the worms.
See more »
It may be bizarre and fabulous in spurts, but it's a creaky low budget flick in the end
This kind of death row movie makes you appreciate how hard it is to pull off a great movie. Here, all the flaws show, almost textbook perfect. The acting struggles between pretty good (the lead female, the femme fatale one, Jean Gillie) to pretty awful (including, unfortunately, the lead male, a doctor, Herbert Rudley). The detective who shows up now and then (Sheldon Leonard), is actually pretty strong, a coldhearted, no-nonsense type, charmless, perhaps, but with some acting subtlety. (Leonard was a smart guy, actor and director for a lot of classic entertainment television years later.)
But in "Decoy," notice how the archetypal elements are all there. The plot is as interesting as many melodramas, if a bit far-fetched in the one detail that is its hook. But there is no Joan Crawford to raise the whole thing up. Cinematographer Bill O'Connell did do the astonishing original 1932 "Scarface" and he makes this movie excellent in the night scenes, but much of the rest of it is merely functional. The director, Jack Bernhard in his first film (in a five year career), could have made more of all of this. When an actor flinches in reaction, it's obviously an overreaction a better director would have reshot. The music swells and soars. The prison priest is sombre. The nurse calls the doctor "darling" even though he's in love with someone else.
But still, there are moments, and it has a great period feel to it whatever its flaws. And a line now and then pops up, crude and noirish. "Come here baby, I want to look at ya." Or the Frankenstein-like, "I'm alive, I'm alive!" Headlights signal across a lonely highway, men struggle with their unexplained passions, good women give bad women the eye, and innocent people die needlessly. The key brief moment that rises above is a man's grappling with being alive at all. And there is that box of money out there which everyone wants, and he's the only one who knows where it is, while he's actually alive and kicking.
It's all in a day's work. Don't expect a cult marvel--it's no "Detour," not at all "Gun Crazy," to name two B-movie classics. It's a creaker with some involving moments, getting better in the second half, and with a campy last three minutes (the woman's laugh is worth the whole thing). But by the end, you might have to remind yourself about the beginning, before the big flashback.
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