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Three men gun down Solly Pitts, 'rebel' against the racket-ridden Longshoremen's Union. Before dying, Pitts tells his wife 'Cockeye' Cook was one of the killers...but won't repeat it to the police, nor will anyone else help them. It seems it's a dockyard tradition to handle private battles without help. Bill Keating, new to the D.A.'s office, is just naive enough to think he can make a case against Cook; but his efforts seem to be leading only to further violence... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Richard Rodgers famous ballet number from On Your Toes serves as the title and the background music for Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, a tale of the New York waterfronts. The twin paradigm about the waterfront is observed in this film as in On The Waterfront, that it is systemically corrupt and the men there settle their own problems.
That's what young prosecutor Richard Egan and homicide cop Charles McGraw face when they try to build a case against three of union boss Walter Matthau's hired thugs. They shot honest pier boss Mickey Shaughnessy in the hallway of his Tenth Avenue apartment building and Shaughnessy's friend Harry Bellaver saw them leave. And while dying, Shaughnessy names his killers to his wife Jan Sterling.
The dockworkers have a Code of Silence, toughest there is and it isn't easy for Egan and McGraw. In fact DA Sam Levene is not sure there's enough to go on. Especially since neophyte prosecutor Egan will be facing top mob lawyer Dan Duryea. And Egan is also planning to get married to Julie Adams.
Slaughter On Tenth Avneue is a competently made and well paced noir film. The comparisons between this and On The Waterfront are too obvious to be ignored. Egan is no Marlon Brando, but I think he would have been the first to admit that. To the dockworkers he comes across as a white shoe lawyer, but Egan worked his way up from the Pennsylvania coal mines where his people were all unionized mine workers.
One thing that distinguishes this from other noir films is that our protagonist Egan is in fact an unambiguous hero unusual for a noir film. There's no real blending of the good and bad, the cast which is well made and gives good performances across the board falls one way or the other as well.
The scene shifts from the court to the docks in the last 20 minutes or so and the climax is really taken right out of On The Waterfront. Slaughter On Tenth Avenue is still a fine bit film making that does credit to the cast and those behind the camera.
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