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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Riff-Raff (1947)

An American private eye (Pat O'Brien) in Panama is hired as a bodyguard by a mysterious man (Marc Krah) who has just killed a man to obtain a map that holds the key to billions of dollars of crude oil. But when the mystery man turns up murdered, everyone wants to know where the map is! Directed by Ted Tetzlaff (THE WINDOW), this is a minor entry in the film noir lexicon but it's a nifty fast moving winner. The screenplay by Martin Rackin cleverly allows us to know where the map is as we sit back and watch everybody else scramble to find it. Pat O'Brien may be a bit portly to be a noir hero and there are too many unfortunate shots of his ample backside as he runs but he knows how to deliver a tough line and sarcasm with the best of them. Anne Jeffreys makes for a lovely femme fatale (you're never quite sure where she stands) and Walter Slezak is perfect as the sleazy villain. One thing that has always irritated me is when the bad guy(s) starts beating up the good guy, the girl sits back and watches for the outcome. Here, I could have cheered when Jeffreys jumps into the fray rather than wring her hands on the fringes. I don't want to oversell it but noir fans should seek it out. With Percy Kilbride and Jerome Cowan.

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