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Beloved priest Father Thomasino is murdered in a San Francisco alley, and the police have few clues. But traffic cop Joe Martini becomes obsessed with finding the killer; he suspects Sylvio Malatesta. Ordered off the case, Joe turns in his badge and investigates alone. Soon he is a close friend of the Malatesta family, all delightful people, especially lovely cousin Anna. Uncertain whether Sylvio is guilty or innocent, Joe is now torn between old and new loyalties. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Just saw this in a double bill with Six Bridges To Cross (another Tony Curtis noir from the same era, also directed by Joseph Pevney) as part of the American Cinematheque Film Noir Festival. What a buried treasure! Pevney was wonderful at rich characterization and the portrayal of the Italian family in this story is nothing less than one of the most heartwarming and charming in cinematic history! Argentina is priceless as the matriarch, outdoing Olympia Dukakis' similar role in Moonstruck. Well-defined roles, clever psychological dynamics and a downright pithy script lift this far above the average crime melodrama, which you might otherwise suspect this would be based on its seemingly standard "cop goes against system to avenge death of his friend" plotline. However, there is a lot more going on in this picture and the performances are uniformly excellent. More importantly, while there is mucho complexity inviting lots of analytical "academic flapdoodle," this is at the heart a highly entertaining piece which lays out a challenging conflict and finds a way to nimbly avoid the cliches and build to an ultimately satisfying solution. If you are a fan of noir or the versatile Tony Curtis, don't miss the chance to see Curtis shine in the straight man cop role for once... If you just like a good crime drama, you'll also want to check this neglected diamond in the rough!
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