This wonderful little picture proves that not every movie shot in black and white on a low budget in the early ’50’s, with plenty of cops, crooks, and guns is film noir. It starts out hinting that direction, though.
Frank Webster is serving time for murder until he breaks out of jail. Webster is all fatalistic about life and depressed about his circumstances, because he’s been falsely convicted. Seems he’s trying to make an honest buck as a trucker and his biggest rival tries to put him out of business by running him off the road. It is one of the rival’s flunkies who is killed in the attempt, and this is the murder that Webster is framed for.
Enter the femme fatale, Connie Adair (Dorothy Malone). Webster kidnaps her and forces her to drive him to Mexico. Connie is plenty femme but not much fatale. She’s decent, you see, wants Frank to give himself up and face a jury, where she is sure when his story is told, he will be exonerated. That pop sound you hear is the sound of my film noir balloon bursting.
Though it didn’t live up to my expectations of what it would be, what it is turns out to be pretty good. John Ireland and Dorothy Malone give good performances, though they’re the only ones who do. Ireland always presents to me as a Robert Mitchum clone, and he sure did here. Malone is stunning. Webster (Ireland) comments at one point on her figure, to which Connie (Malone) replies, indignantly, “There’s *nothing* wrong with my figure!” Webster’s response: “I noticed.” And, he’s not the only one.
Bottom line: This was American International’s first picture, and they would go on to do many worse. I liked this picture, even if it wasn’t film noir.