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Carl Martin is a morose and deranged Los Angeles gardener, who,in retribution for the infidelity of his unfaithful wife, sets about to kill as many blonde's as he can. From the time the film opens, to the sound of a radio turned up full-blast over the still-warm corpse of a blonde, the audience knows the identity of the killer. The film depicts, with documentary realism as it was shot on location in and around Los Angeles, how the police, using laboratory techniques against the few clues they have, track down Martin. Their key clue is a spring from a pair of garden shears. The police move in just as Martin is about to add Jane Saunders, the daughter of a greenhouse owner, to his long list of victims. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The plota serial killer pursuing pretty blondesis not exactly novel, however, the movie is better than I expected and very well done. Early on, the chase between cops and killer around the concrete jungle of LA freeways is both suspenseful and well staged. In fact the entire film appears to have been made on location, in parts of low-income east LA seldom seen on the Hollywood screen. For example, killer Martin's (Williams) slum-like hilltop neighborhood looks like the genuine thing, but with a good view of LA's downtown, plus the post-war grid of freeways slicing the urban landscape like concrete arteries.
Williams low-keys his psychopathic killer with little change of expression. That way we don't know what's boiling up underneath. Neither, for that matter, are the killings exploited for shock value. Instead the emphasis is on suspense as we follow the police investigators' attempts to track down the madman before the pile of blonde corpses gets higher. The influence of documentary-like approach to police methods is evident throughout. This was, after all, the era of Dragnet on TV. The movie also has a number of good touches. For example, the police chemist who needles the detectives in low-key fashion lends interest to a potentially routine scene; or the little girl with her broken doll that lends poignant flavor to the seedy hilltop neighborhood.
On the whole, the movie is done with care and imagination, and can hold its own with many of the better crime dramas of the day. One thing for sure, it at least merits inclusion in Leonard Maltin's too often unreliable movie guide. To me, it's a rather glaring omission even if it is an independent production with a no-name cast.
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