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Questioned as a murder suspect, solid (but drunk) citizen Al Willis attacks his police questioners, is beaten, and swears vengeance against them. Next night, Lieut. Parks is murdered; Willis is the only suspect in the eyes of tough Chief Conroy, who pursues him doggedly despite lack of evidence. The obsessed Conroy is dismissed from the force, but continues to harass Willis, who flees to a sleazy town on the Mexican border. Of course, Conroy follows. But which is crazy, Conroy or Willis? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Has this ever happened to you? I go into my local video store and see a few new arrivals in the "film noir" section. I spy a copy of a new arrival of a film I have never seen called NAKED ALIBI. Its from one of those mail order video companies that offers (mostly) "dupey" looking copies of hard to find titles. The description on the box sounds good. The film has players I like (Sterling Hayden, Gloria Grahame, and Gene Barry). So I take it home and watch it. About ten minutes into this film I started having second thoughts. About half way through this film I started to dislike it. By the time the film ended, I not only disliked it, I despised it. The film opens with cops questioning Al Willis on suspicion of robbery. Other than being drunk, the police have nothing on him. When he pushes a cop and demands to be allowed to go home, the cops beat him up. Detective Conroy arrives, lets the cops finish the beating and then announces Willis is in the clear. Willis swears he will get revenge. Later one of the police officers is shot dead. With no evidence other that Willis is "sore" about the beating, Conroy make Willis his sole suspect, despite the fact that his boss names a pair of mobsters as suspects. Conroy arrests him, but for lack evidence Willis is released. The next day two more cops are killed by a bomb. This time Conroy goes to the Bakery that Willis owns and tries to beat a confession out of him. Conroy doesn't know it but a local newsman whose paper has been accusing Conroys department of police brutality snaps a picture of Conroy trying strangle Willis and Conroy is fired. But Conroy continues his pursuit and Willis flees to Mexico where Willis has a mistress. Conroy manages to convince his mistress (who Willis treats rather rough) to help him prove Willis is a killer. What this film lacks is a convincing script. The script looks as if only a rough draft was written and shooting began before a finished script was completed. Things happen, characters personalities change, plot twists occur for no real reason other than that script calls for it. Other than the fact that Willis likes to tip a glass now and than, there is nothing in the early part of the film to make us think that he is a crazy killer that cheats on his wife. He treats his wife, his kid and employees well. Early in the film, one gets the impression that its Conroy is the one whose is a loose cannon. He seems to casually approve of police brutality. Conroy, for no reason is convinced from the very start Willis has criminal past. He seems to operate on the motto of the old Communist Bulgarian secret police; "Everyone is guilty of something, we just have not found out about it yet." Later Conroy shows kindness to Al's mistress and young son, now we are supposed to like him. Sorry! The early impression I got of Conroy stuck with me too long. And he is also a dumb cop. Only after he is fired and goes to Mexico does he run a background check on Willis and discovers that a warrant is out for him issued in Maryland. Why didn't he think of this before? Because this film hadn't used up enough running time. The cast is good. Gene Barry does well considering how poorly conceived his role of Al Willis is. I'm big fan of 40's and 50's crime thrillers but not only did I not think this film was good, it left a bad taste in my mouth (something many modern films do, but older films rarely do).
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