Motor mechanic Dan Brady lacks funds for a heavy date with new waitress Vera, the type whose life's ambition is a fur coat; so he embezzles twenty dollars from his employer. To make up the shortage, he goes in debt for a hundred. Thereafter, every means he tries to get out of trouble only gets him deeper into crime, while everyone he meets is out for what they can get. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wow. Mickey Rooney and Peter Lorre. Together. And with Jimmie from the Mickey Mouse Club *and* Jack Elam! I didn't know what to expect. In case you were wondering, Rooney proves he can act in the opening scenes. He's a car mechanic looking to get in good with the new waitress at the diner, but he's flat broke until tomorrow. "Danny" starts down a slippery slope by copping a few bucks from the till at work, then lets Vera (Jeanne Cagney) steer him wrong by way of a game arcade owned by her former employer, Nick (Lorre). Nick makes the creepiest possible arcade owner, and Vera pines darkly for a mink coat in a store window. These are not good people to fall in with.
While the film starts out pretty cleverly, the coincidences start to pile up fast and furious. Danny's little white theft festers into a mugging, grand theft auto, a burglary, and worse. The wrong people keep finding out too much about Danny's activities, and soon the cops are crawling all over him.
The acting is quite good, and the direction and pacing are clean. But the wild improbabilities that have piled up threaten to topple the whole house of cards, from the convenient witnesses to the convenient cops to the convenient car trouble. Remember: Danny is an auto mechanic. He can't keep his own car in running condition? Still, it's a treat to see Rooney in such desperate straits. For those looking for Raymond Chandler, tho, this isn't noir; it's still just melodrama.
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