|Barbara Hale and Gene Barry|
THE HOUSTON STORY (1956). Director: William Castle.
Frank Duncan (Gene Barry), a wannabee player, interests the mob in his plan to steal oil and winds up bogged deeper and deeper in corruption. This is an entertaining, fairly fast-paced crime thriller with good performances from Barry and the rest of the cast. Edward Arnold scores as the mobster Paul Atlas, as does Frank Jenks as Barry's old buddy Louie. Jeanne Cooper is customarily saucy and fine as a waitress that Duncan dallies with but it's Barbara Hale who provides the biggest surprise. Usually cast as comparatively bland good girls (a la "Della Street" on TV's Perry Mason) in this she's a sexed-up blond singer and bad girl Zoe and she seems to be having a ball playing the part. Paul Richards is also vivid as Duncan's rival, Gordy. Some exciting chases and fight scenes.
Verdict: Barbara runs off with the picture! **1/2.