Review: Kansas City Confidential

Kansas City Confidential is a classic film noir from 1952, directed by Phil Karlson. I watched this recently because of the recent passing of Coleen Gray. I loved Gray in Nightmare Alley which I reviewed here:

I really look forward to watching more films with her in it. She was one of the great actress from the classic film noir era. If you have not watched any films with her in it, I highly recommended you do.

This story starts out with Preston Foster casing a bank. He is timing when a delivery man is stopping at a floral shop and when an armored car is picking up cash at the bank next door. When he seems to have the perfect crime planned out he starts to recruit his team. His team consists of three of the best actors to play thugs in the classic film noir era. The three criminals are played by Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam. The key to this heist is all four men wear a mask all the time!

The masks not only hide their I.D. from witnesses and the police, but also from each other. This way if somebody is busted they can not rat out the other three. So the robbery goes down, as our driver of the florist truck leaves, the crooks pull up in an exact replica and rob the armored car. When the A.P.B. goes out for the getaway vehicle our innocent driver is soon pulled over. The driver is played by our headlining star for this film,John Payne. The police take Payne in, thinking he has to be involved in the armed robbery in some way. He has been in prison for a year and just recently got out, so it doesn’t look good for him. As our four thieves get away clean and disappear to 4 different locations, with plans to meet at an unknown location later to split the money. When the police let Payne go, he starts his on investigation to find out who framed him. We don’t stay in Kansas City very long for this one as we travel to a few foreign locations.

This plot is a very well crafted story and you don’t know where it is going until the very end. The plot is very complicated, but very easy to follow. Though I watched this for Gray’s involvement, and she is great in her role as the innocent traveler who falls for Payne, the five male leads of this film stole the show. This is a must see for classic film noir fans and film buffs in general.

Review: 99 River Street

99 River Street is a classic film noir for 1953 and is directed by Phil Karlson. This is the story of a taxi driver having one pretty bad day. We get adultery, jewel theft, and murder in this single night of noir. Lets not forget our main character gets punk’d before Ashton Kutcher was a glimmer in his dad’s eye.

John Payne plays Ernie Driscoll our taxi driver, but he isn’t our average taxi driver. Driscoll was also a pretty good boxer. He damaged his eye in the ring and had to give up his boxing career. Peggie Castle plays Driscoll’s wife and was used to the high life when her husband was a boxer. Now that he is just a cab driver, her eye begins to wander. Our couple has a bit of an argument before Driscoll goes out to work for the night. He goes to his local hang out where he meets up with broadway actress Linda James played by Evelyn Keyes. She has a shot at a big acting job and is very excited. You can see Driscoll is happy for her, but at the same time sad he missed his opportunities as a boxer. He takes her to the audition and goes to get his wife a gift to make up. At this point he see’s his wife kissing another man and drives off in a hurry. Soon Linda James comes back to the hangout looking for Driscoll for help. She has murdered the director of the play and is asking for Driscoll’s help. Our story continues from there as we find out who our hero’s wife is having an affair with. A bunch of stolen jewels go missing, more than a few people are looking for our hero for a variety of reasons.

This is a great film noir in many ways. The acting is amazing, especially Evelyn Keyes’ performance. This film seems to have not been seen by many, but really should be. If you are a noir fan, go seek this one out, you won’t be disappointed.