Three men, reared together in New Orleans, but whose paths have drifted apart, each face a crisis during the last weekend of Mardi Gras: Dr. Jason Kent must decide between accepting a ...
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Three men, reared together in New Orleans, but whose paths have drifted apart, each face a crisis during the last weekend of Mardi Gras: Dr. Jason Kent must decide between accepting a chance to become famous as a research scientist, which will mean leaving New Orleans and giving up the girl he loves, Susan Corvier, or staying in his father's practice among the poor; Father Victor Carducci is refused permission to open an independent clinic and is thinking of leaving the Church; Punch-drunk prizefighter Joe Piavi is mainly operating in a survival mode and is trying to collect $1500 owed to him by his former manager Mike Hennighan. When he finds out about the debt, brash reporter Danny Farber, not above a double-cross when it means gain for him, needles Hennighan about Joe, and then tells Joe that Henninghan is threatening to send him to an asylum. The paths of Jason, Father Carducci and J! Written by
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In brief, the screenplay is a mess, lacking in both direction and point. It looks like it's supposed to follow three story threads, namely, three childhood friends still living in a seedy part of New Orleans. However, one thread, the priest, pretty much evaporates, while the other two, the ex-fighter and the doctor, simply flounder from one scene to the next, reaching a climax so abruptly awkward, they may have run out of film. If there's a governing concept to the pottage, I can't find it
Too bad, because there's a lot of talent involved. Campbell and Rule especially shine in supporting parts, even though Wynn spreads on the punch-drunk fighter pretty thick. What really puzzles me, however, is the talent behind the scenes. Writer Bezzerides is responsible for some of the best noirs of the time, e.g. On Dangerous Ground (1952), Thieves' Highway (1949); at the same time, producer John Houseman was a long-time prestige producer and collaborator with Orson Welles. Given these proved track records, what's on screen here stacks up as a genuine puzzlement. There must be an inside story and I suspect it has something to do with the studio, MGM, which was a late comer to B-movie b&w and not much good at it, anyway. Whatever the reason, at least this odd misfire plays off the colorful background of New Orleans Mardi Gras, which is about the only reason to watch.
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