A crooked politician finds himself being accused of murder by a gangster from whom he refused help during a re-election campaign.A crooked politician finds himself being accused of murder by a gangster from whom he refused help during a re-election campaign.A crooked politician finds himself being accused of murder by a gangster from whom he refused help during a re-election campaign.
If anyone's ahead of the game it's Ladd. Smart, tough--he'll take the blows but not the fall. A shark-eyed quiet little guy with a deep voice. A small mouth with barely an upper lip. A smile not quite a smile--head to head with doll-like Veronica Lake who smiles even more when she doesn't mean it. They are a stare-down match for each other. And that bemused look on their faces tells you they're not just game players.
Then there's scene-stealer William Bendix. When a redneck isn't gettin' any action, he might settle for a good knock-down. Getting good & drunk is foreplay. Bendix romances Ladd. How many times does he call Ladd sweetheart? Bendix can hardly wait to get on with the hard stuff. (Don't forget to check out the contemporary hair.) Watch and wince while Ladd plays co-dependent.
For toppers: Ladd's dinner-crashing moment (via skylight)--inspired. Maybe worth the whole film just to see.
Then there are lines like, "My first wife was a second cook in a third-rate joint on Fourth Street," Lake's jab at the Christian Science Monitor, or "If you're going to be a nitwit, don't go around with a megaphone." Also not to miss: Lillian Randolph at the piano of a hide-out bar singing to Bendix. Looking like he's about to cry---till Ladd walks in.
Densely detailed, paced one step ahead--not for the sleepy.
- Feb 18, 2004