In San Francisco, two police inspectors are on the case when a rogue taxi driver, with the help of a rogue porter, manages to steal the suitcase of an antiques collector before running down a cop, whose dying gesture is to shoot the cabbie dead. The inspectors discover that a statuette in the suitcase contains heroin. Meanwhile, a psychopathic gangster, his malignant mentor and their dipsomaniac driver have the job of picking up the other heroin shipments, hidden in the luggage of unsuspecting travelers. All goes well until they attempt to retrieve the heroin stuffed in a Japanese doll. A little girl and her lovely young mother have the doll, but when the crooks take possession of it, they find that the heroin has mysteriously vanished. Written by
According to director Don Siegel, star Eli Wallach was originally hostile because he was upset that, after a prestigious film debut in Baby Doll, he was doing a routine thriller as his second film. Midway through the shoot, however, Wallach realized he was actually playing a complex role in a well-written film and became more sympathetic to the project. See more »
Seaman Warner is pointed out to Dancer at the ship just before the noon siren sounds. The next scene shows Warner signing into the steam room at the Seaman's Club. After he is murdered, the police ask the steam room attendant when Warner signed in and are told 11:05. See more »
Slick and brutal Don Siegel thriller centers on psychopathology of killers
Heroin from Asia is flooding into San Francisco, carried in souvenirs and curios packed by unwitting mules. When the mules arrive home to kick back after their peregrinations around the Pacific Rim, they are paid an unexpected and usually unpleasant visit by a team of psycho-killers named Dancer and Julian (Eli Wallach and Robert Keith, respectively), who collect the precious narcotic. Wallach is forever on the edge of detonation, so it takes the patient ministrations of Keith to soothe him down and keep him on task; their relationship suggests that of an old queen dealing with rough trade. (Their young driver, Richard Jaeckel -- best remembered as the young Turk in Come Back, Little Sheba -- adds to the homoerotic tone, as does a violent scene in a steambath). Don Siegel goads the action along and knows what he's doing every step of the way. The Lineup marks a no-man's-land between classic film noir, which had pretty much ground to a halt, and the flatter, faster and more sensational thrillers that the early 1960s would bring; in its more modest way, it foreshadows later movies like The Detective, Bullitt and The French Connection.
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