A telephone repairman in Los Angeles uses his knowledge of electronics to help a bookie set up a betting operation. When the bookie is murdered, the greedy technician takes over his business. He ruthlessly climbs his way to the top of the local crime syndicate, but then gangsters from a big East Coast mob show up wanting a piece of his action. Written by
"Boulder Dam" is actually Hoover Dam. Congress authorized the Boulder Canyon Dam Project in 1931 and, it being traditional to name big federal dam projects after the sitting President, named it Hoover Dam. Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932 but could not officially change the name set by Congress. Harold Ickes (FDR's Interior Secretary), however, issued a memo directing that his employees "...will refer to the dam as 'Boulder Dam' in this pamphlet as well as in correspondence and other references...." In 1947, after Roosevelt and Ickes had died, Congress passed a resolution to "restore" the name of Hoover Dam. Until that time, however, all official, tourist and other promotional materials called it "Boulder Dam." The public's recognition with the old name was still apparent in the movie (released in 1950) through the script and the highway signage seen en route. See more »
After Larry's funeral, after Mal and Gail talk to Carl Stephans and they walk away, the whole filming crew is reflected on the door of Carl's black car. See more »
You've sure got the angles, Mal. If it was anybody but Vince he'd give you part of the take.
He'll cut me in, Chippie. I've got him by the short hairs right now.
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The credits say "introducing Sammy White", when in fact Sammy White had been making films since about 1930. His most famous screen role was Frank Schultz in the 1936 "Show Boat". See more »
This film stars Edmund O'Brien as a scheming and brilliant mobster--a far cry from the good guy roles in Film Noir films such as DOA and WHITE HEAT. It seems that although at the beginning of the film he's a simple worker for the phone company, he is an expert with electronics and phone lines, so he's able to help a small California mob grow until it controlled the entire state's bookmaking operation. Not content to be just a bit player, he works his way up to the top of this mob until the "big boys" back East recognize his worth and they want a piece of the action. At first, things work out well for O'Brien and he becomes very rich with this new arrangement. However, over time, this relationship sours. Eventually, O'Brien's greed and feelings of invulnerability take their toll--leading to a stirring finale at Hoover Dam.
As expected, O'Brien did an excellent job and he was one terrific actor--particularly in his gangster films. O'Brien's love interest is Joanne Dru, who plays a screwed up lady who wants to see O'Brien go straight but does nothing to actually change him and also does a lot to excuse his excesses. The national syndicate is headed by veteran actor Otto Kruger, who does a nice job playing the "sophisticated and cultured" thug. Oddly, Howard St. John plays the honest and determined police detective bent on stopping O'Brien--since in most films St. John plays heavies or weak-willed jerks.
Overall, it was a very engaging and original Noir film. In particular, the electronics angle was very, very high-tech for 1950 and still was intriguing today. Also, while this film isn't so violent or full of colorful Noir lingo, it does have enough to satisfy fans of the genre. Overall, it's a very good film but a far cry from the greatness and excitement of the better examples of Noir due to its occasionally heavy-handed "crime does not pay" message. As for me, I prefer my Noir a bit more on the cold side.
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