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Mike Lambert, unemployed mining engineer, arrives in a small town with a bang when the brakes fail on the truck he's driving. After meeting seductive Paula at the La Paloma Cafe, he finds himself in trouble with the law. On the basis of a few burning glances, Paula pays his fine and finds him a room, but her motives are not what they seem. Mike lucks into a job with miner Jeff Cunningham, but against his will he's drawn ever deeper into Paula's schemes. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
What an opening! Mike's truck goes careening down a mountain road before pinballing through town. It's not only a riveting effect, but establishes Mike (Ford) as an honest workingman when he turns over his proceeds to the injured Jeff (Buchanan). Too bad he meets up with spider woman Paula (Carter) who spins a greedy web around the well- meaning patsy. As Paula, Carter is a powerful presence. She's got a way of acting that shows a lot of eyeball that's kind of scary. Actually, I think she's too strong, making her switch to the laid-back Mike not very believable. Their chemistry never really gels the way Paula's does with Steve (Sullivan). Unfortunately, that's a lack that undercuts the script's central twist.
Still, it's a solid noir thanks to the classic elements of the screenplay. Ford makes an interesting low-key fall guy. Not too many mining engineers turn up in noir, which I guess accounts for his occasional spiffy suits that look more like uptown Manhattan than temporary truck driver. Still, he's basically the classic working stiff looking for a job. Too bad he sees Paula's well-turned ankle first. Anyway, director Wallace films in journeyman style, except for that one inspired moment after the crash when Paula does a sharp gasping intake. It's a brief cameo shot whose only purpose is to connect Paula's sexuality with violence. For 1947, that's daring and Carter brings it off memorably. I guess it just goes to show how less can imply so much more in the imaginationa lesson contemporary film seems to have forgotten.
The movie may not be front rank noir, but it does have its moments.
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