An urban wheeler-dealer gets involved in organized crime, corrupt city politics and graft while falling in-love with the fiancée of the newly elected mayor.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Ben Grace
...
June Lyons
...
Dorothy Lyons
...
Frank Jansen
...
Solly Caspar
Lance Fuller ...
Gauss
Buddy Baer ...
Lenhardt
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Storyline

Kleptomaniac Dorothy Lyons is paroled from prison in custody of her sister June, secretary to "reform" political candidate Frank Jansen. Ben Grace, associate of crime boss Sol Caspar, sees this as a way to smear Jansen's campaign. But after falling out with Caspar, Ben tries to help June, who he begins to fall for. Sexy Dorothy also has a yen for Ben. June is reluctantly forced to go along with Ben's schemes, but there may be more to these than meets the eye... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

James M. Cain's scorchingly frank expose of the operators behind big-city graft See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

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Release Date:

29 February 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Straße des Verbrechens  »

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Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
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Referenced in WPC 56: Great Pretenders (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Redheads and Rackets
31 January 2004 | by See all my reviews

"You're not good; you're not bad. You're a chiseler, out for anything you can get."

So, says Solly Kaspar, crime boss of Bay City, of Ben Grace, the anti-hero of this story, adapted from James M. Cain's Love's Lovely Counterfeit. What holds our interest in this story is we're never quite sure what to make of Grace.

There's an upcoming election and crime boss Kasper does not want the reform candidate to win, so Kasper strongarms the newspaper publisher backing him, and in the process kills him.

Grace exposes Kasper, forcing Solly to flee to Mexico, and insuring the election of Frank Jansen, the reform candidate. He uses his influence with Jansen to get an honest police lieutenant friend of his appointed Chief of Police.

Good guy, right?

Then later in this movie he's seen giving orders to Solly's men, going over Solly's books, and positioning himself as Solly's successor. He calls his friend,the chief of police, and demands that his girlfriend's sister who was recently arrested be released without being charged, and so we begin to believe we've misjudged ol' Ben. He's just a hood, a little brighter than most, a little smoother than most, but in the end, no different from Solly Kasper.

Bad guy, right?

Well, we're not sure, because Grace isn't sure. Reform mayoral candidate, soon to be mayor, Frank Jansen has an assistant, June Lyons. On a 1 to 10 scale, Ms. Lyons, with her flaming red hair, and blazing headlights (think Good Girl art) is an 11. Rhonda Fleming never looked better, and Arlene Dahl as her sister, Dorothy Lyons, was equally stunning. But, back to Grace. He is falling for June, and June is a thoroughly decent girl, whose better nature seems to affect him.

In the end, however, Grace's schemes come to naught. Jansen who really is a reform candidate orders Dorothy be tried for her crimes. Solly Kasper returns wanting to take over as rackets boss, and Ben Grace is forced to run. Here's where we see his true character, when he scrounges as much of Solly's money as he can and invites his girlfriend to go on the run with him (she declines).

Solly Kasper was right all along. He really is just a chiseler, out for whatever he can get. Major disappointment, as in the end, Ben Grace disappoints not just his girlfriend, but the audience as well.

This is a beautifully photographed movie in full technicolor. The sets are a wonderful amalgam of art deco - rococo excess. Others here have pointed out how garish everything looked. I didn't find it so. I thought it was beautiful. Certainly, the eye candy was stunning. There aren't any two actresses today who could team as good girl - bad girl siblings the way Fleming and Dahl did. Maybe Julianne Moore and Debra Messing, but they wouldn't look as good. The movie's high marks for visual style are undermined by its low marks for aimless, meandering story. 6 out of 10.


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