Directed by Lesley Selander
Screen Play by Royal K. Cole
Original Story by Robert Leslie Bellem
Additional Dialogue by Albert DeMond
Director Of Photography: Reggie Lanning
Cast: William Marshall (Dan Turner), Adele Mara (Sylvia Duane), Ricardo Cortez (Ziggy Cranston), Grant Withers (Inspector Donaldson), Stephanie Bachelor (Carla), Richard Fraser (Antoine le Blanc), Roy Barcroft (Spice Kellaway), George J. Lewis (Blue Chip Winslow), Robert J. Wilke
This is an entry in The Republic Pictures Blogathon, a celebration of the studio’s incredible talent roster, wonderful output and lasting legacy.
For starters, in this quirky, fun Noir we get not one but two Femme Fatales: slinky, mysterious Stephanie Batchelor and Republic’s regular sweetie Adele Mara.
L.A showbiz tycoon (Ricardo Cortez) with a gambling addiction, is slipped a Shanghai-ball by a tomato (as the script would have it) and becomes involved in a shakedown, murder and blackmail.
To sort out this mess, he hires a New York gumshoe (William Marshall, who certainly puts the “hard” in hard-nosed). No sooner has Marshall arrived on the scene when Cortez is framed for another murder. Marshall not only has to contend with gambling syndicate goons, but also a police chief (Grant Withers) who resents this East Coast interloper on his patch.
Stylishly shot by Reggie Lanning, we get a barrage of one-liners from serial expert Royal Cole. The fast pacing is what we’ve come to expect from Lesley Selander. There is a car chase and three slug-fests….the final one is a real doozy. With the constant flow of hardboiled dialogue, the audience is given another mystery to decipher: was the film intended as a parody of private eye flicks? The cast plays it pretty much straight.
My favorite one-liners:
Withers (on first encountering Adele Mara): “Who’s this bright young tomato”
Marshall: “She’s this years entry for mis-information.”
It gets better:
Withers (after Marshall bursts into his office): “I have a desk clerk to announce visitors, that includes shamuses and other vermin.”
Marshall:” Is this a bureau of homicide or insecticide?”
Marshall’s favorite tipple is a dry Martini without the olive… it takes up too much room in the glass. He’s endearingly unlikeable in this film, but apparently was not too likable in real life. According to imdb, when Marshall was directing Adventures Of Captain Fabian (1951), Errol Flynn got so fed up with Marshall’s bombastic attitude, he stormed off the set. Marshall had to complete the film using Flynn’s stunt double. The picture was a critical and commercial flop, and Marshall didn’t directed another film until The Phantom Planet (1961), a cult favorite. Marshall was married several times. Three of his wives were actresses: Michele Morgan, Micheline Presle and Ginger Rogers.
Oddly enough, Lesley Selander never directed a Republic A movie, while other Republic B directors — such as Joseph Kane, R.G. Springsteen and William Witney — moved up to A Westerns starring the likes of Rod Cameron, Forrest Tucker, William Elliott, John Payne, Sterling Hayden and John Derek. Joseph Kane was more than Republic’s top contract director; he was their “rock.” When bona fide A list stars were enticed over to Republic, Kane directed their vehicles: Fred MacMurray in Fair Wind To Java
(1953) and Barbara Stanwyk in The Maverick Queen
(1956). At that time, Selander also moved up to higher budgets, mainly for Allied Artists and Bel-Air — who released their films through United Artists. Selander also got the occasional major studio gig — he did The Raiders
(1952) for Universal and Tall Man Riding
(1955) for Warner Brothers. As the Fifties moved on, Republic struggled and reverted more or less to a B Movie outfit. Trucolor was more or less dispensed with and fewer Westerns were made. They made more and more B Crime Thrillers and the then popular J.D.Movies. From Kane we got fare like The Man Who Died Twice
(1958) and The Crooked Circle
(1957). Springsteen gave us I Cover The Underworld
(1955) and When Gangland Strikes
(1956), and Witney contributed City Of Shadows
(1955), Juvenile Jungle
(1958) and Young And Wild
(1958). Selander returned to the fold for a couple of these later quickies: Taming Sutton’s Gal
and The Wayward Girl
Most of these later Republics had the attraction of being filmed in widescreen Naturama. They’re impossible to see in that ratio today. Even sadder, no-one seems interested in releasing them. Those final Republic B’s (which included several good Westerns like The Lawless Eighties and Hell’s Crossroads) are trapped in the vaults, along with most of the other great titles in the Republic catalog. How long these films will remain unreleased remains to be seen.
John Knight calls himself “a ‘Muswell Hillbilly’ by birth, now retired and living on the Isle Of Wight. A lifelong film fanatic, my ‘education’ on film was mainly gained in the fleapits of London and many visits to the National Film Theatre on London’s Southbank.”