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Antonio Gomez, a nearly down-and-out musician, is a widower with a young boy, Paco. Fighting to support his boy in the face of unemployment and neighbors who want custody of his son (something that here in Mexico City they might just obtain), Gomez argues with an ex-girlfriend over money she owes him. After he leaves, the girlfriend is murdered by the religious-fanatic serial killer terrorizing the city. When neighbors report the argument Gomez had with the dead girl, the police presume they are finally on the hot trail of the serial killer, and Gomez is their target. Gomez goes out to a pawnshop to buy his son a long-dreamed-of guitar and there meets a young woman with whom he goes looking for his son. What Gomez does not realize is that a police dragnet is closing in on him and that his boy Paco actually witnessed this most recent murder and has been trailing the killer. It's not long, though, before the killer is trailing the boy. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Montalban in an athletic tee...and a nice little noir
A Life in the Balance: even the name bespeaks noir. So, not surprisingly, destiny has a nasty shock in store for out-of-work widower Montalban, who is struggling to make a secure home for his motherless little boy. Neighbors are threatening a custody action, and a smitten ex-lover is resisting repayment of a large loan. And then father and son fall beneath the sinister shadow of maniacal psychopath Lee Marvin. Unware of the terrible turn of events, Montalban bounds fatefully into the Mexico City night. In a pawn shop, he meets Anne Bancroft, a prim, down-on-her-luck lady who is bereft of either street smarts or employment. As the two sally forth into the lights and activity of a holiday festival, his son is in the midst of a far different and dangerous pursuit on dark, deserted streets. Montalban looks sensational, but he is, after all, playing an everyman and conducts his characterization accordingly. Bancroft, though attractive, is unglamorously so and is most appealing in her emotional and intellectual reactions to Montalban. Their relationship, though expeditiously developed, seems deeper and more credible than many seen in classic movies. The plot spins out smoothly, and the settings are well suited to the story. As well as obscure avenues and alleyways, crowded tenement, and typical hock shop, a police station and cavernous cathedral enhance the somber mood. It all makes for a somewhat soft-soaped, somewhat predictable, but nonetheless interesting bit of noir.
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