Frankie Madison returns to New York after 14 years in prison. Noll Turner, Frankie's former partner in bootlegging, is now a wealthy nightclub manager, and Frankie is expecting him to honor a verbal '50:50' agreement they made when he was caught and Noll got away. Fat chance! Can Frankie, who knows only the strong-arm methods of Prohibition, win out against Big Business? It'll be tough...even with the unlikely alliance of torch singer Kay (Noll's ex-girlfriend). Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film was based on a play "The Beggars Are Coming to Town" by Theodore Reeves which opened on Broadway on October 27, 1945 starring Paul Kelly and Luther Adler in the Lancaster/Douglas roles as former bootleggers. This was Byron Haskin's first directorial assignment since 1928, having worked as a cameraman in the interim. Haskin felt that the reason none of the cast objected was as newcomers they didn't know enough to object. See more »
(at around 1 min) Dave has explained how the club is organized financially. Frankie turns, walks away in confusion, then turns back to Dave facing downstage right. Then there is a jump cut and Frankie is suddenly turned 90 degrees facing downstage left. See more »
Frankie (Burt Lancaster) is released after 14 years in prison and is met by old friend Dave (Wendell Corey) who sets him up with a place to stay. He senses that Dave is uneasy with him and discovers that Dave is working for his old partner in crime, Noll (Kirk Douglas), who is now running a successful nightclub. Frankie visits the club and Noll is curious to find out what he wants. He instructs his mistress Kay (Lizabeth Scott), who is a singer at the club, to pump Frankie for information over a dinner. It is soon clear to Frankie that everyone around him is under the influence of Noll and so confronts him with a demand of a half share in the business. Noll refuses and Frankie plans to take what he believes is rightfully his - they agreed to split things 50-50 if either of them went to prison. It is interesting to see the two different characters pitted against each other, ie, Frankie (straight forward and uneducated) vs Noll (deceitful and intelligent). Kay switches allegiance when she hears of Noll's intention to marry Mrs Richardson (Kristine Miller) and Dave also has 2nd thoughts about Noll....
The film is well-acted but Lizabeth Scott seems slightly out of place as a world-weary nightclub singer. She's too young to be believable as someone who has been "around the block", and I also found her voice slightly irritating. The acting honours go to Kirk Douglas and Wendell Corey. Burt Lancaster tends to overact his part. My favourite part of the film is the sequence where Frankie confronts Noll with a team of heavies in order to get what he feels is his share of the nightclub. We have a very amusing scene where Noll and Dave confuse him with legal speak to the point where even his gang of thugs give up with the whole idea.
It's an entertaining film although I was expecting slightly more from it. There is also a melodramatic piece of music that is played throughout the WHOLE film. I can't remember when the music wasn't playing!
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