During the campaign for reelection, the crooked politician Paul Madvig decides to clean up his past, refusing the support of the gangster Nick Varna and associating to the respectable ... See full summary »
Paul, a young man whose father was once lieutenant Governor of California before his untimely death, has a strange, recurring dream in which his mother falls in love with a dangerous man (... See full summary »
A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
Thelma Jordon is in love with a jewel thief, Tony Laredo, and he persuades her to go live with her rich aunt, and steal her jewels. During the robbery, she shoots her formerly-rich aunt, ... See full summary »
A down-on-his-luck ex-GI finds himself framed for an armored car robbery. When he's finally released for lack of evidence--after having been beaten up and tortured by the police--he sets out to discover who set him up, and why. The trail leads him into Mexico and a web of hired killers and corrupt cops. Written by
This absorbing crime drama is also one of the most well-crafted movies of its genre. It tells its story with few frills, but with plenty of interesting details and a well-timed pace. John Payne gets one of his best roles, with a very good supporting cast. A strong sense of danger and uncertainty is built up early, and is effectively carried through the whole movie, right up to the end.
Payne is well-cast as an ex-convict who gets framed by a very clever criminal mastermind, and who then determines to seek out the truth. In itself, the setup is a familiar one, but "Kansas City Confidential" gets quite a lot out of it, and it is hardly predictable. The story moves from one hazardous situation to the next, with very little pause for relief, maintaining the tension constantly. Preston Foster is also very well-suited for his role as the ex-police captain, and the roles of the three lowlifes are well-acted by Neville Brand and young-looking Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam.
The atmosphere and characters both work particularly well. The story has perhaps a couple of implausible turns, but in itself it is so carefully constructed that this really doesn't matter. Director Phil Karlson certainly deserves praise for putting things together so well. Very few B-movies are this well-conceived, and as a result it still holds up very well.
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