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Josef von Sternberg,
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Edward G. Robinson,
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Edward F. Cline
Edward G. Robinson,
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
I picked up on this movie on a dull afternoon. I was intrigued by the title and didn't realize I'd seen it before. I'm glad I took another look.
I glanced at some of the reviews and, for the life of me, I can't understand why this movie was almost universally panned. It's not Detective Story, or The Naked City, and it was never meant to be. This is a little forgotten gem, rescued from obscurity by TCM. We get to see the cops processing evidence using methods that today seem primitive. The lab scenes take us back to pre-DNA days. It reminds us of a time when the police used logic instead of computers to work out a solution.
I admit that the acting is less than outstanding, but gee what atmosphere. The lunch wagons, the shoe repair shops, the tattoo parlors, and the seedier side of life in Brooklyn when it was still interesting.
My advice to some of my more critical friends would be: don't try to make a silk purse out of sow's ear. It is what it is.
Note: The part of Johnny Marseilles, the tatoo artist, was played by Arthur Jarrett who was a famous tenor in the 30's and 40's. He once sang with some of the famous early bands such as Ted Weems. You can see him in his prime as the singer in another TCM classic called Dancing Lady, with Joan Crawford.
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