7.4/10
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87 user 55 critic

Kansas City Confidential (1952)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 11 November 1952 (USA)
An ex-con trying to go straight is framed for a million dollar armored car robbery and must go to Mexico in order to unmask the real culprits.

Director:

Phil Karlson

Writers:

George Bruce (screenplay), Harry Essex (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Payne ... Joe Rolfe
Coleen Gray ... Helen Foster
Preston Foster ... Tim Foster
Neville Brand ... Boyd Kane
Lee Van Cleef ... Tony Romano
Jack Elam ... Pete Harris
Dona Drake ... Teresa
Mario Siletti ... Tomaso
Howard Negley ... Andrews
Carleton Young ... Martin
Don Orlando Don Orlando ... Diaz
Ted Ryan Ted Ryan ... Morelli
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Storyline

A down-on-his-luck ex-G.I. finds himself framed for an armored car robbery. When he's finally released for lack of evidence, after having been beaten up and tortured by the police, he sets out to discover who set him up, and why. The trail leads him into Mexico and a web of hired killers and corrupt cops. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Exploding! Like a gun in your face! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

11 November 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kansas City 117 See more »

Filming Locations:

Guatemala See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The 1.2 million dollars stolen from the bank would be the equivalent of almost 10.75 million dollars in 2015. See more »

Goofs

When approaching the bank for the heist, a mountain is clearly seen in the background. Kansas City is in the plains and has no mountains. See more »

Quotes

Joe Rolfe: I thought I'd take a walk through the village before I turn in.
Tony Romano: Don't walk too fast - you'll be out of town without really seein' it!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: KANSAS CITY See more »

Connections

Referenced in M*A*S*H: The Gun (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

La Cucaracha
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by Tomaso as he delivers the mail
See more »

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User Reviews

Nicotine Meets Noir
17 June 2008 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

What a burst of casting inspiration-- three premier baddies, Elam, Brand, and Van Cleef all together in the same film, menacing the heck out of a vengeful John Payne. Elam should have gotten extra pay since everybody and his brother knocks the skinny wild-eyed guy around. Actually, for awhile I thought the movie was one long cigarette commercial or at least a chain-smokers' revival meeting. Speaking of casting, Preston Foster really delivers in a sly role that runs the gamut from tough-talking mastermind to nice-guy fisherman, all in convincing fashion.

"Kansas City" is, I believe, the first and clearly the best of a number of "Confidential" films made during the mid-fifties. For example, note the unusually brutal cop interrogation of fall-guy Payne. Keep in mind, this was during a Cold War time when the TV mega-hit "Dragnet" was professionalizing law enforcement's image nation-wide. Here, however, we get quite a different picture that certainly goes beyond the norm of the day. In fact, director Karlson, like noir filmmaker Anthony Mann, built a reputation for emphasizing the raw nature of thuggish violence, at least as much as the censors would allow. And this is certainly one of the more graphically brutal films of the era.

All in all, it's a fine imaginative script, with a number of unconventional surprises. The robbery is cleverly plotted along with the get-away. I like the way the screenplay parcels out needed information instead of laying it all out at the beginning. That way, viewer interest is kept up since a new wrinkle might pop up at any moment. Even pretty girl Colleen Gray's part is nicely woven in at the end, after I thought she was just a romantic interest. I guess Dona Drake's role was a touch of local color or a favor to somebody since she adds nothing to the plot, but apparently her Mexican girl does sell more than just souvenirs.

There are echoes from this movie in such later caper films as The Killing, Plunder Road, and Mark Steven's underrated Timetable. Some might consider this a noir film since Payne is trapped by unseen forces through no fault of his own. Nonetheless, other traditional noir elements are noticeably absent, such as the angular shadows of expressionist lighting and the lack of a customary spider woman. But it doesn't really matter how the movie's categorized because it remains something of a sleeper with a number of genuine surprises.


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