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Having lost his heavyweight championship match, boxer Ernie Driscoll now drives a taxi for a living and earns the scorn of his nagging wife, Pauline, who blames him for her lack of social status. Involved with jewel thief Victor Rawlins, Pauline is murdered by him when she impedes his ability to fence the jewels. Blamed for his wife's murder, Ernie must track down Rawlins before he leaves the country.Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Payne and Evelyn Keyes head for "99 River Street" in this film noir directed by Phil Karlson, and a very good one it is. Payne plays Ernie Driscoll, a washed up fighter who now drives a cab and has to take insults from his pretty, actress wannabe wife Pauline (Peggy Castle) who coulda been a contender if she hadn't married him. It turns out that she has a crooked boyfriend, Victor Rawlins (Brad Dexter) who is planning to get $50,000 from some diamonds and run away with her. When the fence refuses to deal with Rawlins because there's a woman with him, Rawlins kills Pauline and puts her body in Ernie's cab! Ernie's got to clear himself, and a friend at the cab company (Frank Faylen) and an aspiring actress friend (Evelyn Keyes) are there to help.
There are a very neat twists in this very atmospheric, gritty noir, which doesn't hold back on the violence. John Payne obviously loved this genre, or else he wanted to work against his clean-cut leading man image of the '40s. Here he looks like a fighter who's taken a lot of punches, and he does a great job as a basically good guy who's been dealt some bad cards and is angry about it. You're really pulling for him. Evelyn Keyes is wonderful as his friend, and her seduction act in a bar is one of the best scenes in the film. Frank Faylen, of course, is always likable - this is about six years before he became Dobie Gillis' father. Brad Dexter is excellent as a ruthless gangster.
Recommended, particularly if you like the genre.
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