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Friday, January 5, 2018

Hell On Frisco Bay (1955)

A cop (Alan Ladd) is released from prison after five years for a crime he did not commit. He has one thing on his mind and that's to find out who framed him. Based on the novel THE DARKEST HOUR by William McGivern and directed by Frank Tuttle (THIS GUN FOR HIRE). This borderline film noir is a mixed bag. It's saddled with an uninteresting domestic narrative as Ladd has trouble forgiving his nightclub singer wife (Joanne Dru) who had an affair while he was incarcerated. Their scenes together slow down the film. Also, the great cinematographer John F. Seitz (DOUBLE INDEMNITY) doesn't use the CinemaScope frame very well, too many empty spaces. The film belongs to Edward G. Robinson at his very best as a cold blooded thug without an ounce of human compassion in his body. There's a subplot involving Robinson's right hand henchman (Paul Stewart) and his relationship with a washed up actress (Fay Wray) that's far more interesting than the Ladd/Dru domestic troubles and could have made for an entire movie itself. The film picks up steam as it rolls along but it ends with a whimper, not a bang. With Rod Taylor, Jayne Mansfield, William Demarest, Perry Lopez, Stanley Adams, Anthony Caruso and Tina Carver.

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