Low-rent 'Grand Motel' set in glorified cowtown of Vegas
Going by its title, its year of release, and its cast - Dennis O'Keefe, Colleen Gray, Thomas Gomez, Mary Beth Hughes - you might think Las Vegas Shakedown was a late film noir, but you'd be wrong. It's a sort of Grand Motel set in the early days of the Nevada gambling oasis when it really was The Pastures - a glorified cowtown.
O'Keefe runs the Rancho Something-Or-Other casino, and we know he's on the up-and-up because he testified before the Kefauver Committee on organized crime and sent mobster Gomez to Alcatraz. Gomez, now deranged, is barreling back into town, a couple of aging torpedoes in tow, to kill O'Keefe. Also into O'Keefe's establishment drift Hughes, who gambles away the three grand her husband was planning to open a lunch wagon in Salt Lake City with (she pleads with O'Keefe to give it back to her, but no dice); a straight-laced elderly couple from Nebraska, bank president Charles Winninger and his wife Elizabeth Patterson (Mrs. Trumbull on I Love Lucy); James Millican and Dorothy Patrick, a couple on the cusp of divorce; and a schoolmarmish author (Gray) who wants to research an exposé of Vegas - her last book was called `The Psychology of Science' - but ends up falling for O'Keefe instead. She should have stuck to her writing.
Their various stories are told as stand-alone, unconnected vignettes, and the movie is directed in a flat, uninteresting style by Sidney Salkow. Maybe the most arresting thing about Las Vegas Shakedown is its musical score by Edward J. Kay, mainly because its Big Theme seems strangely familiar - it's the same one he wrote for Decoy, 10 years earlier.
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