A BULLET FOR JOEY
(director: Lewis Allen; screenwriters: Geoffrey Homes/A.I. Bezzerides/from the story by James Benson Nablo; cinematographer: Harry Neumann; editor: Leon Barsha; music: Harry Sukman; cast: Edward G. Robinson (Inspector Raoul Leduc), George Raft (Joe Victor), Audrey Totter (Joyce Geary), George Dolenz (Dr. Carl Macklin), Peter Van Eyck (Eric Hartman), Joseph Vitale (Nick), Bill Bryant (Jack Allen from L.A.), John Cliff (Morrie in Chicago), John Alvin (Const. Dan Percy), Steven Geray (Raphael Garcia), Sally Blane (Marie Temblay), Henri Letondal (Dubois), Ralph Smiley (Paola, fake organ grinder); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Samuel Bischoff/David Diamond; United Artists; 1955)
“A lifeless 1950s red scare crime thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A lifeless 1950s ‘red scare’ crime thriller routinely directed by Lewis Allen (“Illegal”). It’s based on the story by James Benson Nablo and written by Geoffrey Homes (Daniel Mainwaring) and A.I. Bezzerides. The improbable and tedious story is set in Montreal and involves Communist spies trying to kidnap atomic physicist Dr. Carl Macklin (George Dolenz) in order to steal his deadly new “device.”
While American scientist Macklin, teaching at a college in Montreal, is taking his customary early morning walk he’s unaware that he’s being filmed by an organ grinder, whose hurdy-gurdy contains a motion picture camera. When spotted by Constable Percy he flees and when caught beats the officer to death. This brings in Inspector Raoul Leduc (Edward G. Robinson) to investigate, and soon the organ grinder is also dead.
We learn that a Communist spy ring led by Canadian rare bookseller Eric Hartman (Peter Van Eyck), a tool for a foreign power, is behind these killings as they want to kidnap the scientist and steal his invention. For some reason that’s incomprehensible, they decide they can’t do the kidnapping on their own and must use exiled to Lisbon American gangster, Joey Victor (George Raft). They smuggle him in by boat to Montreal to be sponsored by a farmer named Dubois as a farm-worker named Steiner, and Joey agrees to the snatch as long as he brings his former gang together for the job. That means Nick from Mexico, Jack from Los Angeles, Morrie from Chicago and his former doll Joyce (Audrey Totter) from Havana to be together for one more big payday.
The kidnap plan goes into motion as Joey orders the handsome Jack to romance Carl’s ugly 21-year-old single secretary, Yvonne Temblay, and pump her for information about Carl. When she accidentally reveals where her boss conducts his experiments, Jack kills her. The Inspector is now convinced the crimes revolve around Macklin and has him followed. Meanwhile Joyce has been ordered by Joey to find a way to be Macklin’s girlfriend. After meeting him on the golf course, the two become an item.
The Inspector has the FBI checkout the prints on the Ford rental used in the murder of the secretary, and the prints match ex-con Jack’s who is a known member of Joey Victor’s gang. But Jack turns up dead in LA for not telling Joey he killed the girl before getting paid off. The police are now onto Joey and his gang’s involvement in this crime spree, but they snatch Macklin and his device and everyone involved in the plot are on a boat bound for Europe. After Hartman pays off Joey his $100,000, what he doesn’t count on is that the hood is really a patriot.
REVIEWED ON 1/30/2007 GRADE: C- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/