In 1928, Big Ed Hanley, boss of a gang of Chicago racketeers, has money and power, but he is bored. Watching some kids play in the park, he sees Ruth Manning and is interested at once. He ... See full summary »
Marriage broker Mae Swasey, who somewhat cynically arranges her loser clients' affairs, meets model Kitty Bennett and can't resist meddling in her life, by disentangling her from a married ... See full summary »
In New York, after seven years in prison, the lawyer Max Monetti goes to the bank of his brothers Joe, Tony and Pietro Monetti and promises revenge to them. Then he visits his lover Irene ... See full summary »
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Edward G. Robinson,
Supermodel Vicki Lynn, whose face is seen everywhere, is murdered, and ace homicide cop Ed Cornell cuts his vacation short to take the case personally. In flashback we see how Vicki rose from ambitious waitress to big black headlines, courtesy of clever publicity man Steve Christopher. Now Cornell seems determined to get Christopher convicted in what begins to seem like a bizarre personal vendetta. Is Steve caught like a rat in a trap? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On Vicki's bedroom wall is a print of the painting "Pinkie" by Thomas Lawrence. In 1949 Jeanne Crain (Jill Lynn) starred in the movie Pinky (1949). See more »
Slug me with those, Cornell, and I'll square you off if it takes me the rest of my life.
Lt. Ed Cornell:
You're not gonna have a very long life, Stevie. You're like a rat in a box, without any holes. But they're gonna make a hole for you...six by three, filled with quicklime.
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Imperfect, and not as impressive as its influences, but beautiful and quite decent
This film gets a bad rap. It's not brilliant, and it is a weaker version of the bold and gritty "I Wake Up Screaming," but it's beautifully filmed, tightly edited, and it has decent acting throughout.
The one acting exception might be the oddly cast main detective, who as a complex and critical role here, and who is miles from the original performer, Laird Cregar, in 1941. But on the same token I didn't think Betty Grable was convincing in the original, and the role here is filled with an appealing coolness, and a more crystalline beauty, by Jeanne Crain. And it's hard to ignore the astonishing Elisha Cook Jr. in the first version, compared to the awkward and overacted night clerk here.
Comparisons are hard to ignore because the plot is quite identical in both. It's a weird scenario overall, and it demands some forgiveness because of the trick played on the viewer by the detective. "Vicki" is told through a series of flashbacks, many of them, making for a highly constructed and rather choppy experience, which is intentional. The lead male besides the detective is a likable guy, a fairly ordinary fellow despite his position as a bigwig talent promoter in New York. When he is accused of killing the title character (the movie opens with a scene of her corpse being hauled away), it becomes a little Hitchcockian.
But psychology isn't a factor here, and neither is suspense. In fact, there isn't much to grip the viewer besides waiting to see how the plot will unfold, almost as a jigsaw puzzle where the picture in the puzzle doesn't matter so much as the shape of the pieces. Which is too bad. The elements are here for an amazing movie--and an amazing remake, even with today's style of filmmaking. It isn't a disaster, but it lacks a little on every front--except Haller's truly exceptional cinematography--and so we get a decent movie.
But if you like this at all, do see the more impressive (and also flawed) 1941 "I Wake Up Screaming," with a beefy and very different leading man in Victor Mature. And there is an undeniable influence from the slick and far better and more famous 1944 "Laura," complete with its title as a woman's name and a song being written for the movie. If you have seen either predecessor and are simply curious, you won't be ruined or angry if you watch this late noir from 1953, "Vicki." It's pretty good!
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