Barry Sulivan is a cynical gangster who controls the Neptune Beach waterfront. He runs a numbers racket with the local soda shop owner: the police are in his pocket and the local hoods are on his payroll.
The wife of an alcoholic writer must take a job as a taxi driver to make ends meet. A young man she picks up as a fare befriends her, but when her husband is found murdered, the police suspect she and her new "friend" committed the murder.
Quiet, organised Dr Talbot meets nightclub singer Nora Prentiss when she is slightly hurt in a street accident. Despite her misgivings they become heavily involved and Talbot finds he is ... 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 »
Chubunka is the self-made head of the rackets in the sleazy boardwalk community of Neptune City, a low-rent version of Coney Island. He has become infatuated with a sultry nightclub chanteuse and lavishes her with gifts and attention, spending money on her that might better go to maintaining his hold on his operation. His obsession with her, as well as his pride, clouds his judgment as Cornell, a much more ruthless hoodlum, moves in on Chubunka's territory, bribes and threatens his associates, and compromises his operation. As if in a Greek tragedy, the petty gangster's weaknesses conspire to cause his downfall. Written by
Daniel Fuchs wrote the screen play based on his own book. See more »
When Jammy gets the note from Cornell's hood, the rain is pouring all around him, but when the camera cuts into his face holding the umbrella, there are no raindrops hitting the puddles behind him. See more »
Smalltime gangster feels heat of competition, while romancing showgirl.
The most interesting thing about this crime drama are the visuals. Director Wiles goes all out with the stylized setsthe beachfront, the elevated train, the complex interiors, et al. I guess that's not surprising given his background as an art director. Apparently the King Brothers let him do pretty much what he wanted even on the small budget. The result is arty, but interesting. Then too, maybe you can take those stylized sets as mirroring Shubunka's inner state since he seems not too far from the nuthouse to begin with.
Sullivan certainly looks the gangster part. With his high cheekbones and gimlet eyes, he's scary even without the big scar. Plus, he's about as cold and animated as a block of ice. Sullivan's a fine actor so that is no accident, but the characterization seems too extreme to involve us in his fate. On the other hand, Loring's semi-pretty working girl comes across well, as does Belita's glamour girl with her odd facial resemblance to noir icon Gloria Grahame.
Like another reviewer, I'm a bit stumped by the seemingly unnecessary subplot with Morgan and D'Orsay. At first I thought the producers probably owed D'Orsay something so she got a tacked-on part. But then I noticed a parallel between Morgan's narcissistic Lothario and Sullivan's narcissistic gangster. Each appears imprisoned by his own limitations. Notice too that Morgan appears trapped by a jail-like fence following D'Orsay' rejection, a possible foreshadowing of Sullivan's downfall. Anyway, it's a thought.
But what I really like about the script is how Sullivan's indifference toward Ireland's desperate gambler brings about his own end a nicely ironic touch. Also, note how the entrepreneurial criminal operations are tied in with corruption at higher levels of politics and big money. That seems unsurprising since both screenwriter Fuchs and the uncredited Trumbo were later blacklisted. In fact, noir appears the favorite genre of many leftist screenwriters, perhaps because of the potential for unhappy endings in a capitalist society.
Nonetheless, the movie as a whole comes across more as an object of contemplation than of audience immersion, but certainly continues to have its points of interest.
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