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Shortly after a bank robbery, gangster John Wheeler and his henchmen hide in a small apartment, awaiting for the rest of the gang to arrive.Also in the apartment are Wheeler's girlfriend, Laura and the gang's surgeon, Dr. Frank Matson. Wheeler asks Dr.Matson for a few headache pills.After taking the medication, Wheeler is shocked to find out that he has been poisoned by the doctor and he will die in 48 hours unless he receives the antidote from Dr. Matson. Matson takes the bag containing the bank loot and also asks Laura to join him in escaping the gang. The doctor tells Wheeler that he will give him instructions via a phone call to help Wheeler find the antidote once the doctor will safely be far away with the bank loot and the girl.Wheeler has no choice and allows Dr.Matson and Laura to leave the apartment with the bank loot.However,their getaway is fraught with unforeseen dangers, including a vengeful Wheeler who is determined to recuperate his bank loot and his girl and kill ... Written by
Great beginning, pretty good ending. Too bad about the middle
One Way Street opens beautifully. Sirens shriek through the Los Angeles nightscape while, from the window of an apartment building, an elegant woman (Marta Toren) smokes as she watches them disappear. She reports her observations to Dan Duryea, who has just masterminded a big heist. One of his lieutenants (William Conrad), however, has taken a bullet, which gang-sawbones James Mason is summoned to extract. He does so, meanwhile launching a ploy by which he departs not only with all the loot but with Toren Duryea's moll. Although fate almost deflects their escape, they finally cross the border to Mexico.
And here the movie settles in for a long siesta. Mason and Toren find themselves in a primitive village where Mason's medical skills are pressed into service (he cures a horse but can't save a little girl). There's plenty of warmed-over wisdom issuing from an itinerant priest (Basil Ruysdael) and plenty of danger from bandidos who keep cropping up, swigging mezcal while wiping their lips with the backs of their hands and eying Toren up, down and sideways. Despite these distractions, she seems to like it there and wants to stay, but Mason wants to press on to Mexico City (and their divergent goals and low-key temperaments serve to keep the romance distinctly cool).
This snooze is interrupted a couple of times by cuts back to Los Angeles, where Duryea and Conrad are bent on recouping the money and on revenge. But only when Mason returns to have a face-to-face reckoning with Duryea does the movie spring back to life. And in a rhyme of its earlier, unexpected intervention, fate proves that it always has the last word.
One Way Street was the first feature in English by the Argentinian-born director Hugo Fregonese, who stayed in Hollywood long enough to churn out a few westerns and genre-pictures (Man In The Attic, one of the many versions of The Lodger was his work). From the bookends that open and close One Way Street, he had a feel for the look and pace of film noir, but the thick volume of Mexican folklore they surround turns out to be a not very film-worthy property.
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