(director: Sidney Salkow; screenwriters: Robert T. Marcus/based on the book Chicago Confidential by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer; cinematographer: Kenneth Peach; editor: Grant Whytock; music: Emil Newman; cast: Brian Keith (Jim Fremont), Beverly Garland (Laura Barton), Dick Foran (Artie Blane), Beverly Tyler (Sylvia Clarkson), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Candymouth Duggan), Paul Langton (Jake Parker), Douglas Kennedy (Ken Harrison), Gavin Gordon (Alan Dixon), Jack Lambert (Smitty), John Morley (Mickey Partos), Henry Rowland (Milt), Buddy Lewis (Jordan); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert E. Kent; United Artists; 1957)
“The fine cast keeps this muddled melodrama suspenseful despite its predictability.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A weak B-film “expose”crime thriller that is based on the tabloid true-crime series popularized by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer in the 1950s. The fine cast keeps this muddled melodrama suspenseful despite its predictability, holes in the plot, and reliance on uninteresting stock characters. It’s adequately directed by Sidney Salkow and written by Robert T. Marcus. It tells about the mob infiltrating a Windy City union, and an ambitious crusading DA cleaning up the mess he inadvertently contributed to.
The treasurer of the Workers National Brotherhood, Mickey Partos, calls in a panic the state DA, Jim Fremont (Brian Keith), about racketeers taking over the union and he has the proof in the crooked books in his possession. Set to meet the DA in his house that night, Mickey is kidnapped, his accountant books stolen, and then he’s murdered by goons working for crooked union veep Ken Harrison (Douglas Kennedy). The thugs dump his body and car into the river, and leave the murder weapon by the dock for the cops to find in order to frame honest union president Artie Blane (Dick Foran) who won’t be part of their corruption. Wino derelict Candymouth Duggan (Elisha Cook, Jr.), a former union member kicked out because of his alcohol problem, finds the gun and turns it over to crooked bartender Milt for some free booze. Milt contacts Harrison, and he contacts the big boss behind the mob operation, disbarred mob lawyer Alan Dixon (Gavin Gordon), who schemes to get an airtight case against Blane as the killer of Mickey.
DA Fremont is assured he’ll get the nod for his party’s nomination for guv if he gets a conviction on Blane. Fremont’s breezing along until two witnesses come forth giving Blane an alibi, Blane’s girl friend Laura Barton (Beverly Garland) and nightclub singer Sylvia Clarkson (Beverly Tyler). But a fake tape recording suddenly materializes fudging the testimony and Sylvia after threatened by the hoods commits perjury on the witness stand, resulting in Blane’s death sentence conviction.
Laura insisting she told the truth, presses the DA to look again at the case. The DA discovers a showbiz voice impersonator by the name of Jordan (Buddy Lewis) was used to imitate Blane’s voice on the phony tape. The DA is now convinced he prosecuted the wrong man and gets police captain Jake Parker to help locate the missing witnesses. It results in a trail of bodies, as the ruthless mobsters have taken over the union and brought in gambling, vice, and narcotics, and are capable of doing anything to keep their power. The final scene has the thugs at the airport prepared to take off in a private plane with the last witnesses, Laura and Sylvia, when the police arrive to stop them. Everything turns out according to Hoyle, as Blane is returned as prez, the union cleaned up, the mobsters arrested, and the DA hailed as a hero and shoo-in to be the next guv.
REVIEWED ON 3/23/2005 GRADE: C+