A plane takes off from Peru (in a long no-dialogue scene) in a storm with two passengers; it lands in Panama with one. The missing man had valuable oil-location maps; everyone who is after ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Dan
...
Molinar
...
Percy Kilbride ...
Pop
...
Walter Gredson
...
Rues
...
Domingues (as Jason Robards)
Marc Krah ...
Hasso
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Storyline

A plane takes off from Peru (in a long no-dialogue scene) in a storm with two passengers; it lands in Panama with one. The missing man had valuable oil-location maps; everyone who is after them must deal with Dan Hammer, combination private eye, agent, and con man, who can "fix" anything for a fee. Nightclub singer Maxine is on Dan's side... or is she? The rest is lighthearted, white-suited tropical intrigue. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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Release Date:

15 September 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Riff-Raff  »

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(RCA Sound System)

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Opening credits: The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. See more »

Quotes

[Hammer, annoyed with a bar hustler, sends him crashing into a table]
Bar proprietor: You shouldn't do that, Mr. Hammer. It gives the place a bad reputation.
Dan Hammer: You mean a worse reputation.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL
(uncredited)
Written by Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney
Performed by Anne Jeffreys and backups
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User Reviews

 
Tetzlaff directs O'Brien in overlooked, and smashing-looking, "movie movie"
8 July 2002 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

One of the many felicities of Ted Tetzlaff's top-notch Riffraff, the cinematography of George Diskant can be best seen, unencumbered by dialogue, in the first few dazzling minutes. Torrential storms darken an airfield in Peru, where in the dead of night a cargo plane bearing two passengers departs for Panama; only one of them arrives. The opening previews Tetzlaff's pure-cinema approach; he lets the story unfold through images (and occasionally sounds) with a casual adroitness that remains striking more than half a century later.

At the center of the story is Pat O'Brien, a Canal Zone operative-for-hire. The surviving passenger engages him for protection, but doesn't survive for long. Then an oil company hires him to find a map, supposedly with the vanished man, of unclaimed oil fields in Peru. Walter Slezak wants it, too, but through strong-arm tactics. O'Brien, with the help of his driver Percy Kilbride and nightclub singer Anne Jeffreys, sets out in pursuit of the elusive document (which we know from almost the get-go hangs pinned to a screen in his room).

In retrospectives of film noir, Riffraff usually gets overlooked. While its genre is international intrigue and its touch on the light side, its conventions and, especially, its look, bring it to the fringes of the noir cycle. (And it's a better movie than two noirs released the same year which mine similar veins: Calcutta and Singapore.)

Bigger stars like Humphrey Bogart and Alan Ladd monopolized this tough-guy-in-ports-of-call genre, but O'Brien acquits himself honorably. Unfortunately, he was nearing 50 at the time, and his early-middle-age looks probably weren't what post-war audiences were looking for (Bogart, however, was exactly the same age). No matter: the real heroes of Riffraff are Tetzlaff and Diskant, who collaborated to make what Judith Crist used to call a `movie movie.'


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