This obscure B-movie was Jules Dassin's last film before embarking on a series of classic noir and crime films--and actually it's the first of his crime films and shows his interest in developing the genre. As another critic reports in a previous post, this film is NOT a comedy (as Maltin's book describes it) about two con artists mixed up "in art forgery." Actually, it's a crime/road movie about stolen bonds, co-written by the creator of "The Saint." True, Lucille Ball co-stars, and she and John Hodiak meet cute in a TROUBLE IN PARADISE manner, blowing each other's cons with a mutual pigeon. But from the first shot, Dassin reveals his interest in crime
Like Dassin's forgettable comedy A LETTER FOR EVIE, this film is shot by the great Karl Freund, in decline from his silent heyday and not yet arrived at his groundbreaking I LOVE LUCY three-camera period. He gives us expressionist shots aplenty, and such privileged moments as a pan shot with window reflection from outside a train, a cactus-by-moonlight scene, and a chiaroscuro moment when Ball is menaced by Elisha Cook Jr lighting a match. The presence of Cook, Lloyd Nolan, and Hugo Haas (on their way to being entrenched noir icons) also counts for something. The road trip plot (on a train) allows stops in Mexico and New Orleans. The last third (set at Mardi Gras) is suspenseful and colorful, with Cook in fool's motley.
In conclusion, if this 1946 film doesn't hold up as well as Dassin's later, truer noirs, we can still see it's an early step in the development of that genre.
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