The police find the body of hostess Helen Howard (Wanda McKay), disposed of by petty racketeer Nick Mantee (Kane Richmond) after she was shot in his Bluejay night club by Benny Nordick (...
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The police find the body of hostess Helen Howard (Wanda McKay), disposed of by petty racketeer Nick Mantee (Kane Richmond) after she was shot in his Bluejay night club by Benny Nordick (John Gallaudet) because she knew too much about Mantee's rackets. Police Lieutenant Williams (Conrad Nagel) and police Sergeant Tom Ramey (Ralph Byrd) inform the dead girl's parents and sister Nancy (Audrey Long) of the run-away's death. Nancy, following Helen's trail, signs with the Mercer Agency operated by Nordick, training girls for an excessive sum which they work off as hostesses at the Bluejay Club. Nancy becomes a hostess at the club and after a party for Latin-American night club owner Barda (Anthony Warde), she uncovers evidence that places Helen at the club. She accuses Nick and Benny of the murder and the two mobsters realize they must do away with her. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
exciting, well-acted crime drama about missing young women
Structured much like an exploitation film, but minus any sleaze
or cynicism, this 1948 crime drama exposes the sordid world of "modeling agencies" set up to entrap and exploit lonely runaway young women from small towns who find themselves in the big city, waiting for some kind of "break" toward a career in modeling or acting. With a first-class supporting cast (Conrad Nagel, Evelyn Brent, Wanda McKay, Ralph "Dick Tracy" Byrd), the film pits Audrey Long--the sister of the young woman whose murder opens the film-- against the seedy yet suave Kane Richmond. Richmond, in one of his last roles before retiring from the screen and re-entering the business world, is best-known as leading man in many 1930s/1940s action films and serials, yet here he is the heavy, and he uses his personal charm to comfort then exploit the young women who are all to eager for a "break." Director William Nigh--whose last film this was and whose credits as director-writer-actor-producer date back to the mid-1910s--keeps the action moving at a brisk pace, but clearly worked with each actor to capture the right tone of performance, so that as "predictable" as the elements of the film may be to the genre-film fan, each character seems real. I first saw this film six or eight years ago and just watched it again, and it's just as solid and riveting as I remember it. Kane Richmond is especially memorable in a rare villain role, and the devoted fan of B-crime films of the 40s (this was a Monogram release) should search for a copy.
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