The body of an unknown woman turns up in a stolen car abandoned in a New York park, and the only clue the detectives on the case have to work from is the tattoo on her arm, and the fact ... See full summary »
The body of an unknown woman turns up in a stolen car abandoned in a New York park, and the only clue the detectives on the case have to work from is the tattoo on her arm, and the fact that someone tried to deface the corpse to remove the evidence. From this slender trail, and that of a single stem of grass discovered in the car, they gradually trace back first the victim and then her killer, in a case that's all science and legwork, and no magic inspiration. Written by
Starvation-budget police procedural a raw glimpse into old New York
Film and camera technology developed during World War Two paved the way for easy, inexpensive location shooting. So, in the late 40s, movies -- in particular, low-budget B-pictures -- started to break away from studio-built sets and to shoot on the mean streets of American cities. These changes also freed production from cumbersome studio systems and put the means of moviemaking into the hands of small, independent producers.
The Tattooed Stranger is a starvation-budget police procedural about the murder of an unknown victim; its cast and crew are all unknowns as well. A woman's body turns up in Central Park; later, in the morgue, police shoot a skid-row veteran hired to carve an identifying tattoo from her corpse. They have to find out first who she was, then who killed her. Their investigation takes them from brownfields in the Bronx to the bars and beaneries of Brooklyn and the Bowery.
This is the ratty old New York, before Robert Moses cleaned everything up by tearing everything down. The characters who inhabit firetrap tenements and patronize grungy tattoo parlors look like shell-shocked urban survivors, not slumming bit-players. The story, sweetened up slightly by a love interest of little interest, gets told flatly, with few frills. The Tattooed Stranger affords a brief, quasi-documentary glimpse into a squalid underside without benefit of sentiment or prettification.
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