BELOW THE DEADLINE (JUMPING JOE) (director: William Beaudine; screenwriters: story by Ivan Tors/Forrest Judd/Harvey Gates; cinematographer: Harry Neumann; editor: Ace Herman; music: Edward J. Kay; cast: Warren Douglas (Joe Hilton), George Meeker (Jeff Hilton), Jan Wiley (Vivian Saunders), Ramsay Ames (Lynn Turner), Paul Maxey (Brennan), John Harmon (Pinky), Philip van Zandt (Oney Kessel), Bruce Edwards (Sam Austin), George Eldredge (Vail), Clancy Cooper (Nichols); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lindsley Parsons; Monogram; 1946)
“Sluggish post-war B film crime drama directed by William “One Shot” Beaudine.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Sluggish post-war B film crime drama directed by William “One Shot” Beaudine(“The Old Fashioned Way”/”Boys Will Be Boys”/”Windbag the Sailor”). It’s based on the story by Ivan Tors, and is carelessly written by Forrest Judd and Harvey Gates.
Embittered Air Force hero flyer Joe Hilton (Warren Douglas) returns from combat in the Pacific to civilian life in an unnamed western city after being in the war for the last four years. Though having no experience in the gambling business, he seamlessly takes over a gambling racket he inherits from his dead brother Jeff (George Meeker). The unscrupulous greedy brother was shot when his rival, Oney Kessel (Philip van Zandt), ordered a hit because Jeff was encroaching on his turf by taking over his clubs. Jeff dies outside the last club he took over from Kessel, while in the arms of his gold digger trophy girlfriend, Vivian Saunders (Jan Wiley).
Crooked lawyer Brennan (Paul Maxey), Jeff’s business adviser, stays on to be the business adviser of the always snarling Joe, who goes tough guy on disloyal henchman Nichols (Clancy Cooper) and roughs him up with his fists in an office spat. Nichols thereby joins Kessel’s gang, and makes a failed attempt to execute Joe. After the rival gangs tussle, they unite to try and re-elect their bought mayor, as both racketeers finance his campaign to make sure the reform candidate Vail (George Eldredge), a wounded GI officer, doesn’t win and enforce his campaign promise to remove the entire dirty gambling operation in the city.
Nice girl Lynne Turner (Ramsay Ames) is only 19 and the underage girl works in the casino, running a dice scam called 26 Game, but is fired when Joe discovers she’s a minor. Lynne can’t return to her farm home because her dad is an alcoholic and doesn’t want her. So she settles into the big city and becomes the sourpuss Joe’s girlfriend and his voice of reason. When Joe mentions he took over his brother’s business to exact revenge against civilians who made piles of money while he was fighting in the war, she calls him out for being off-base.
Joe’s nice guy commanding officer, Sam Austin (Bruce Edwards), still looking out for Joe, reunites with his fellow flyer and urges him to get out of the rackets and partner with him in a legit aircraft business. Though Joe refuses, he lends the Colonel $50, 000 to finance the venture. Joe then makes an uneasy truce with Kessel to stop the surging in the polls for the reformer by contributing even more campaign money. But when Vail wins anyway, Kessel feels betrayed after learning that Austin was financing Vail’s campaign. After the rival gangs each double-cross each other, Joe takes a bullet from Kessel. He recovers while in a wheel-chair, as everything gets patched-up between the soldier boys and they once again work together on the right side. Meanwhile all the bad guys, including the crooked lawyer, go off to jail for racketeering and attempted murder charges.
The heavy-handed crime drama has a phony look, the acting is fit for a second-rate film (except the ladies who play the good and bad girls are just fine) and its morality lesson seems more like a bad joke than a truthful life lesson.
REVIEWED ON 1/15/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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