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

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden
NAKED ALIBI (1954). Director: Jerry Hopper. Produced by Ross Hunter.

Police Chief Joe Conroy (Sterling Hayden of Crime of Passion) is convinced that baker and family man, Al Willis (Gene Barry of The Girls of Pleasure Island), is responsible for the deaths of several police officers. When he confronts him in his bakery, someone takes a photo of Conroy about to hit Willis and the chief loses his job. That doesn't stop Conroy from following Willis to Mexico on one of his "business trips," where he discovers he has a girlfriend, a singer named Marianna (Gloria Grahame of The Big Heat), who doesn't know that her lover boy is married. If the two of them team up, can they find proof that Willis is a killer? Hayden is just right for the role of the cop; he doesn't get across any character nuances, but the script doesn't do much to make him more dimensional anyway. Gene Barry offers one of his most memorable portrayals as Willis, who is smooth and lovable one minute, and raw and sociopathic the next -- in this Barry is quite different than he is as Amos Burke. Grahame offers another credible and sympathetic portrait of a good girl who's fallen for the wrong guy, yet again. Naked Alibi is a fairly standard crime thriller but it does have some suspenseful moments. One incredible sequence early in the picture has Hayden letting Willis simply walk out of the police station after he's assaulted one of his officers! Yeah -- that would really happen. Chuck Connors, Billy Chapin, and Michael Fox have small roles.

Verdict: Acceptable borderline film noir. **1/2.

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