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Vivian, a B-girl working at "The Grass Skirt," is being brushed off by her rich, married boyfriend. To confront him, she hijacks drunken customer Henry Shanway and his car from Boston to Cape Cod, where she strands Henry...and is never seen again. Months later, a skeleton is found (sans clothes or clues) on a lonely Cape Cod beach. Using the macabre expertise of Harvard forensic specialist Dr. McAdoo, Lt. Pete Morales must work back from bones to the victim's identity, history, and killer. Will he succeed in time to save an innocent suspect? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Don't miss the chance to see this great noir on TV!
That's right! If you're a film noir fanatic as I am, you'll appreciate this obscure film! It has all of the ingredients of a noir; sex, greed, blackmail, murder - it's all here! Plus, there are also many additional surprises; pre-DNA forensic science and one of the first movies to show a skeleton used of non-horror purposes; something unheard of for it's time. The cinematography is second to none for the crime-drama films made during this era. Plus, that's not all! this movie is filmed largely on location in Boston and Cambridge. There are some great views of the city from 1950 which cannot be missed.
And the plot is pure noir too. Henry Shanway (Marshall Thompson) is a victim of circumstances when he is falsely accused of murdering Vivian Heldon (Jan Sterling), a "hostess" from the seedy "Grass Skirt" cocktail lounge. This is only the top of the iceberg. As the movie progresses, Shanway, distraught over his wife's miscarriage, is drowning his sorrows at the "Grass Skirt" which is just across the street from the hospital his wife is in. Heldon is also pregnant, not by choice, from a tryst she is having with "blue blood" James Joshua Hartley (Edmon Ryan) a businessman from the lower part of Cape Cod. Heldon's attempts to see Hartley in order to confront him about her pregnancy are fruitless; Hartley is definitely giving her the brush off. Shanway is the perfect stooge for Heldon as she takes advantage of his sorrow by giving him too much to drink and then offering to drive him home in his own car.
Things don't work out that way as she takes him for an unexpected ride to the Cape in order to read Hartley the riot act. Later that night, they arrive at a hamburger stand near Hartley's home. She dumps Shanway at the hamburger stop and continues up the Cape where she encounters Hartley, who, in turn, kills her, buries her in the sand dunes and dumps Shanway's car in a bog.
Later on in the late fall, an ornithologist (played by a young "elfish" Walter Burke) discovers a skeleton in the sand and the investigation begins. Ricardo Montalbon and Bruce Bennett both play great roles in their attempts to find the murderer. The skeleton is brought to Harvard Medical School and the forensics begin. All this time, Elsa Lanchester, the victim's landlady gets into the act and attempts to black mail Hartley after finding his phone number scrawled by the hall phone in her home. She adds one plus one, and visits Hartley with the attempt to extort money from him. In one scene, in his office, she musters up the courage to look through his desk and finds a gun which she gingerly puts in her handbag. This plot is finely woven, moves quickly and gives the viewer an exciting experience throughout the film.
My advice: see this film! It is a fine example of the noir that was so popular during this special era of film making. What puzzles me is that there is so much "junk" available on the market; low budget horror pics, dumb "girlie" movies, idiotic "bathroom humor" flicks - all available on DVD or VHS. However, a superb movie like Mystery Street remains unavailable. Why?
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