Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

99 RIVER STREET

Evelyn Keyes and John Payne
99 RIVER STREET (1953). Director: Phil Karlson.

Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) is a bitter prize-fighter and current cab driver whose career ended when he received a serious injury to his eye. Driscoll also discovers that his unsatisfied wife, Pauline (Peggie Castle), is having an affair with a diamond thief named Victor (Brad Dexter). Then an aspiring actress he knows, Linda (Evelyn Keyes), tells him that she's in trouble, leading to the movie's best scene, which is, unfortunately, only midway through the movie. One clever if unlikely sequence isn't enough to save this standard potboiler, where Driscoll has to settle accounts with Victor while dodging police for an incident with Linda -- and worse. Payne and Keyes are okay, as is Frank Faylen as Driscoll's buddy, but Castle [Beginning of the End] makes a better impression and Dexter is terrific as a smiling homicidal reptile, matched by Jay Adler as the man who engineered the diamond heist but now won't pay off. Michael Ross, the space giant and bartender in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, appears as a cabbie and Glenn Langan [The Amazing Colossal Man] is a theatrical producer. Keyes made a better impression in The Killer that Stalked New York but Dexter is much more vital in this than he was in Macao.

Verdict: Unimpressive film noir despite some decent moments and one surprise. **.

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