No Questions Asked (1951) Poster

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Finder's Fee Turns Into Racket
bkoganbing9 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
No Questions Asked finds Barry Sullivan as a lawyer for an insurance company with some heavy duty money problems. He's got a high maintenance Arlene Dahl whom he's looking to marry. On his own and after a few tries he makes a deal with some gangsters to return some stolen furs, No Questions Asked, for which Sullivan gets a finder's fee.

Dahl still gives Sullivan the heave ho and trades up to marry the richer Richard Simmons (that's not the exercise guru). While drowning his sorrows, Sullivan realizes one could make a good living at this and in fact it's legitimate. And the crook's realize they can steal hard to fence items, as long as they can sell it back to the owners through Sullivan. And the beauty for Sullivan is that his end is completely legitimate. Sweet.

Naturally this is all going to blow up in our hero/protagonist's face and police inspector George Murphy will be around to collect the pieces. It's how it all blows up that's the real interest in No Questions Asked. Sullivan also has good girl Jean Hagen from his office with a yen for him. But he can't shake his yen for Dahl.

No Questions Asked is a nicely paced caper/noir film with a lot of high gloss productions values not normally associated with noir. Of course coming from MGM it wouldn't be anything else. Dahl gives one of her best screen performances as the ice princess of Sullivan's dreams.

This one is worth catching if TCM runs it.
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small noir from 1951
blanche-210 September 2009
Barry Sullivan retrieves stolen goods for a fee in "No Questions Asked," a 1951 B noir also starring George Murphy, Arlene Dahl and Jean Hagen. Sullivan is Steve Kiever, an attorney for an insurance company. He's impossibly in love with the beautiful, gold-digging Ellen (Dahl), who dumps him early on by getting married and forgetting to mention it. After recovering stolen furs for the insurance company and making extra money, he goes into business for himself. Soon there's a city-wide crime wave, with the thieves collecting good money on the stolen goods without being caught trying to sell the stuff and with no one learning their names. The police, led by George Murphpy, are furious with him. Kiever becomes wealthy and has gone back to an old girlfriend from his office, Joan (Hagen) when he sees Ellen again. The old hunger returns - though, as Hagen is aware, it had never left.

This is a pretty good film, very noirish with his sleazy locations and nighttime drama. There are some good scenes, though I have to admit that I saw through the gimmick used for the robbery and couldn't figure out why no one else who was robbed did. Two future TV stars, Richard Anderson and William Reynolds, have roles in the film, as well as old-timers like Murphy and Moroni Olsen.

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Respectable Noir
dougdoepke27 September 2009
No need to repeat the plot, which is a good, unpredictable one. This MGM noir is better than most of the studio's compromised crime dramas of the Dore Schary period. Director Kress keeps things moving, while scripter Sidney Sheldon manages a few neat twists, along with a stunningly gorgeous Arlene Dahl who's enough to make any man lose his head, plus the always soulful Jean Hagen. It's certainly a very watchable 80 minutes; however, I am wondering why it's not more memorable than I think it is. Kress has a good sense of pacing, but what the movie lacks is at least one, strongly memorable scene. In my book two come close. The stickup in the ladies room is really novel. The violent threat of "women" on women presents a genuine departure from convention and real possibilities for something memorable. It is a good scene, but ultimately nothing more than an unusual robbery sequence. The other promising episode is the showdown in the pool, a neat payoff for an earlier underwater scene with gangster Franko (Petrie). However, despite what looks like a lethal encounter, the aftermath turns into just one more conventional close call.

In a more general sense, the movie does contain a number of violent scenes. Yet all are staged rather impersonally, thereby eliminating one of the hallmarks of front-rank noir— that is, the "reality of violence" as one acute observer termed it. Anthony Mann's noirs (e.g. T-Men {1947}; Border Incident {1949}) are especially effective in making the audience not just see the violence, but more importantly, in making us feel its reality in a visceral way. Also important is the reality of evil (non-theological), whether it's corruption (e.g. Phenix City Story {1955}) or brutality (e.g. The Enforcer {1951}). The presence of evil is usually, I think, a matter of atmospherics and acting. Unfortunately, not only is there no sense of evil in the film, there's hardly even a sense of wrong-doing, especially from the rather genial chief gangster Franko who should be the main source. Now, Kress does a good workman- like job filming an imaginative script that keeps us interested and entertained. But ultimately he doesn't manage that extra dimension of making us feel a part of what's happening. As a result, the movie fails to rise above the level of respectable noir, yet that's certainly more than enough for a slow evening.
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pretty good noir from the early fifties
ksf-210 September 2009
Arlene Dahl is "Ellen" in this flick from the 1950s. The opening scene is our narrator running from the police, but within 10 seconds we flash back to what brought us to that point. In the flashback, she is met at the airport by a lawyer-friend "Steve" (Barry Sullivan). Steve is also on a first name basis with Harry, the taxi driver. Harry takes him around to visit all the thugs in town so he can be the go-between in a shady transaction. All of a sudden, his girl is gone, and Steve is in business getting more and more stolen goods back for clients....for a price. The police are watching him, and he'd better watch his step....Jean Hagen is "Joan", Steve's new girl. ( Hagen had been in Singing in the Rain, and Dead Ringer with Bette Davis.) No real big names in this one, but it's a pretty good story. Directed by Harold Kress, who had won two Oscars for EDITING How the West was Won and Towering Inferno. He was nominated for editing SIX times, and won two of those times. Oddly, this was one of the five films KRESS ever directed. Pretty good movie - i'm surprised that this one isn't on more often, but I guess it's because they used lesser known actors of the time.
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Arlene Dahl isn't as nice this time
RanchoTuVu29 March 2010
An insurance claims adjuster (Barry Sullivan) finds he can make a lot more money if he deals with the crooks who are robbing and stealing valuable jewelry and furs. The insurance company that he works for is actually abetting crime in order to retrieve the stolen goods and minimize their losses, thus upsetting the police who would prefer to not reward the crooks who are now even more motivated to pull off daring heists, as they now are guaranteed hefty payments for the stolen goods. This film has some interesting elements and a couple of memorable scenes, a couple of which take place in a swimming pool and one in which the assembled wealthy patrons at an opening night theater debut are robbed while they're all in the powder room between acts. At the root of Sullivan's actions is the woman who dumped him, played by Arlene Dahl. She usually plays sympathetic parts, but here her character has a solid place on the memorable list of film noir bad girls. For a film directed by someone known for editing, this is surprisingly good, with a tough ending.
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Noirish look at insurance scams marred by indifferent acting
bmacv14 February 2001
No Questions Asked takes us down the primrose path followed by ambitious insurance agent Barry Sullivan (but all quality comparisons to Double Indemnity end there). He links up with mobsters who guarantee the return of stolen goods in exchange for a payoff consisting of a percent of their insured value -- and the insurance company acquiesces in this bottom-line trimming. (Sullivan's fiancee, Arlene Dahl, aspires to a higher standard of living.) Soon he's raking in big bucks, to the chagrin of his former co-worker Jean Hagen, who carries a torch for him. There are some good scenes (including a heist in a theater's ladies' lounge by two torpedoes in drag as society dames) and plot twists; some of the cinematography is not bad, either, though it's pretty cliched noir. The worst part of this movie, however, is the generic acting from all involved, except for that of Jean Hagen -- Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain -- and a couple of the bit players. Still, it's worth a first look, if not a second viewing.
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Plays real good, like a noir should
heathentart9 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I've always liked Barry Sullivan's work, but never saw him in a dark, noir role like his Steve Kiever, man on the run.

The films has a lot of the noir standards: dark environs, some nasty losers, and the set-up, murder and finally the solution.

Kiever is an insurance agent who gets deep into a twisted scam of mobsters, insurance companies, and cops. The plot is fairly simple -crooks stealing insured jewels, then working with Kiever to return them to the insurance company for payment. Ya see, the insurance guys pay less than the insurance claim would have paid. So the jewels are returned, the mobsters make more than they would using a fence, the insurance company goes along - "No Questions Asked." Everything is fine, Kiever has a super girlfriend in the form of gorgeous Arlene Dahl, he's making money hand over fist - And then there's a murder.

This is a good movie which I enjoyed greatly. I have a personal interest because the film was made in the year of my birth, and I've always been interested in what things were like then.

"No Questions Asked" is a nice way to spend a coupla hours. A cold drink, some popcorn, turn the lights down and settle into the couch. Life is good. :)
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Some terrific lines
samhill521515 April 2010
Yes indeed, some terrific lines here, especially by Jean Hagen. She is the jewel of this passable noir. Watch for the scene where she shows up at Sullivan's apartment and the interaction with Arlene Dahl. Priceless and somewhat unexpected given the film's age. Some other good stuff as well, again considering the film's age. Like the holdup by two men disguised as women. Otherwise the main premise of the lawyer who acts as go-between criminals and insurance companies is a bit thin. The acting is fine if not exceptional. Barry Sullivan is convincing as the lawyer out for a fast buck to impress gold digging Arlene Dahl whose presence is enough as usual. But it's Jean Hagen who shines and makes this worth watching, at least for her scenes.
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good noir
johnwinkler31 October 2001
A terrific classic noir opening - man on the run in a city of night, his voiceover, leading to flashback - but eventually disappointing. Barry Sullivan is excellent as the protagonist. If it had kept the courage of its opening, it could have been one of the great ones.
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Show Me The Money!
sol28 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** We already see at the start of the movie that former insurance company lawyer, and now fencer for the underworld, Steve Keiver, Barry Sullivan, is in a heap of trouble with him running for his life from the law. Reflecting just what got him into this sorry mess Keiver goes into a long flashback to happier times when he was just a working slob making an honest living at the insurance company that he once worked for.

It was the girl of his dreams pretty Ellen Sayburn payed by former 1946 Miss Rheingold Beer Arlene Dhal who got Keiver into the bind that he finds himself in now. It was the greedy and never satisfied with her situation in life Ellen who really got Keiver started on the road to destruction as well as a trip to the Sing Sing electric chair! That's if the mob doesn't get him first. That's by Ellen wanting him, by hook or by crook, to make something of himself in the world of high finance. Telling Keiver to get ahead in life, if being a hard working and honest man wasn't good enough for her, he followed Ellen's advice asking his boss Henry Manston, Moroni Olsen, for a raise since he's expecting to marry Ellen and raise a family with her. Not getting a raise even though Manston said he so rightfully deserved it Keiver found out that Manston was secretly working with the mob not actively but in paying it off to get stolen goods back that his insurance company was libel for!

It's later when Keiver found out that his soon to be happily married bride Ellen had secretly dumped him for the rich and well connected Gordon Jassman, Dick Simmons, that he felt that not only was he made to look like a love-sick fool by Ellen but that his life as an honest as the days long lawyer made him unavailable to a gold digging women like her by having Ellen leave him for another, and much richer, man!

Seeing from his boss Mr. Manston just how profitable it is to be a fence-man for the mob Keiver decided to go solo as a fence-man himself. In no time at all Keiver using his friend and taxi driver Harry Dycker, Danny Daton, to get him business was "The Man" whom the mob dealt with in exchanging stolen furs jewelry as well as truckloads of expensive wine & booze for cash which Keiver got as much as a 20% commission for.

With him just being the middleman and not having anything to do with the robbery of the goods that he negotiated for Keiver was within he law with the cops not being able to lay a glove, or handcuffs, on him. It's when Ellen came back into his life together with her crook of a husband Gordon that things started to turn sour for Keiver! So sour that he ended up not only become a target for the mobsters that he worked for but the law in being implicated in the murder of a police officer Det. O'Bannion, Richard Anderson. It was Det. O'Bannion whom Keiver, in an effort to go straight, was about to turn evidence over to against his gangster boss the future, or so he wished, Olympic underwater swimming-he could hold his breath for almost five minutes- gold medalist Franko, Howard Petrie.

***SPOILERS*** We get back to the present, after the long flashback, with Keiver on the run from both the law and the mob as he's brought back to his boss Franko to face the music in a $850,000.00 stolen jewelry heist he was supposed to have fenced for him. It's then when all hell breaks loose with Kiver realizing that he's been set up, by guess who, in him being both implicated in the re-stolen-from Franko- stolen jewelry as well as the murder of Det. O'Bannion with not a shred of evidence on his part to prove it!
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edwagreen26 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The surprise ending reveals the old theme that money isn't everything or having more of it makes you yearn for even more. Quite possibly the so called wealthy couple didn't have that much as you're led to believe, unless they saw a quick opportunity to make a quick haul.

Barry Sullivan is the lawyer who gets involved with the mob. He works for an insurance company and is too quickly able to retrieve stolen merchandise.

The culprits dressed up as women who rob other ladies at a play looked as though they were Daphne and Josephine from "Some Like it Hot."

Sullivan is made to look like a victim of circumstances when he is rejected by Arlene Dahl and is refused a pay raise. As the detective on the case, George Murphy lacks the toughness here which the part should have demanded. There is a good performance by Jean Hagen, the woman who loved the Sullivan characters and is willing to bow out when it appears that he is headed back to the Dahl character.
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Jean Hagan - Always the Bridesmaid!!
kidboots3 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Apart from "The Asphalt Jungle" and "Singin' in the Rain" it seemed "incidentally" was the word critics used most when describing Jean Hagan's performances. She got her first break on Broadway in "Another Part of the Forest" and became great friends with Patricia Neal who introduced her to an actor's agent. "Adam's Rib" should have got her noticed but this film also marked Judy Holiday's debut and when she did have a memorable role as the sincere gangster's girl in "The Asphalt Jungle", Marilyn Monroe stole the show with her smaller but flashier role as Louis Calhern's very youthful mistress.

"No Questions Asked" was more of the same - her role as the loyal, dependable assistant to lawyer Barry Sullivan may be the one decent person in the cast but she was lost in the shuffle between glamorous Arlene Dahl and up and coming (who never went anywhere) Mari Blanchard. Arlene Dahl was at the end of her MGM contract after a couple of years of mostly playing opposite Red Skelton. "No Questions Asked" played her against type as a ruthless gold digger and her performance proved maybe these were the type of roles she should have been given all along.

She plays Ellen who returns from a holiday to inform starry eyed fiancée Steve Kiever (Barry Sullivan) that she couldn't wait for him to make good as a lawyer, she has married for wealth and the security she craves. Steve, already worried that he will not be able to keep her in the manner to which she feels accustomed, has started to walk a fine line for his law firm after hearing his boss say "I'd pay $10,000 to get the property back - no questions asked!!". He then goes to the gangsters and strikes a deal, netting $2,500 for himself and thereafter becoming the bane of the police force by not allowing them to finish the job (George Murphy plays the Chief of Police with no light and shade).

Joan (Hagan) stays true and just when it looks like she may be making headway, Ellen comes back in the picture. She claims she has learned her lesson, that her love for Steve is too strong - but is she setting him up?? Steve of course is putty in her hands - Sullivan was always better as an ice man whether as gangster or detective, he just didn't have the depth to make you feel anything for Steve who was basically a nice but weak guy who would have had a happier life with Joan but then there would have been no movie!!

Showiest role went to Mari Blanchard, as Natalie, who made Arlene Dahl look almost frumpy but unfortunately she didn't receive many lucky breaks during her career - a nice role in Audie Murphy's "Destry" being her career highlight.
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