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CHICAGO DEADLINE(director: Lewis Allen; screenwriter: Tiffany Thayer story One Woman/Warren B. Duff; cinematographer: John F. Seitz; editor: LeRoy Stone; music: Victor Young; cast: Alan Ladd (Ed Adams), Donna Reed (Rosita Jean D’Ur), June Havoc (Leona Purdy), Irene Hervey (Belle Dorset), Arthur Kennedy (Tommy Ditman), Berry Kroeger (Solly Wellman), Harold Vermilyea (Anstruder), Sheppard Strudwick (Blacky Franchot), John Beal (Paul Jean D’Ur), Tom Powers (Howard), Gavin Muir (G.G. Temple), Dave Willock (Pig), Paul Lees (Bat), Howard Freeman (Shaner), Roy Roberts (Jerry Cavanaugh); Runtime: 87; Paramount; 1949)
“In a Laura type of minor film noir, director Lewis Allen fails to make his love sick hero who is mooning over a corpse into anything but a superhero figure.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Warning: spoilers throughout.

In a Laura type of minor film noir, director Lewis Allen fails to make his love sick hero who is mooning over a corpse into anything but a superhero figure. The film failed to make his cop character as inviting as Laura made Dana Andrews. Crusading reporter Ed Adams (Alan Ladd) wants to get the full story behind the TB death of a young attractive woman named Rosita Jean d’Ur found abandoned in a flophouse hotel. Ed steals Rosita’s address book before the police arrive and goes through the list of names looking for information. Each person tells their story of Rosita in flashback. Some at first are reluctant to say they knew her.

Ed’s newspaper assistant Pig (Willock) helps him track down the names of those in her address book, which are not alphabetized but placed in the order of when Rosita met them. From Rosita’s brother Tommy (Kennedy), Ed learns she was from Amarillo, Texas, and moved to Chicago at a young age because she didn’t like living on a ranch. Rosita married, but her husband was killed four years ago in an auto accident. Since then Rosita had taken odd jobs, and lived with her roommate Leona (Havoc) next door to a gangster named Blackie Franchot (Strudwick). Blackie fell in love with her and they developed a romantic friendship, but a wealthy corporation head, Temple (Muir), also fell in love with her. But Rosita rejected Temple and he hired his enforcer Solly Wellman (Kroeger) to work Blackie over and since she witnessed the beating — she was to be bumped off. But the hit man felt sorry for her and hid her in the flophouse while telling Solly and Temple that she was dead.

The idealistic reporter stumbles onto a cesspool of city corruption involving racketeers and legit big business after Rosita’s tragic life is published. After two murders and several attempts at blackmail, Ed guns down Solly in a showcar garage shootout. Ed then attends Rosita’s funeral and tells her brother he will write the truth about her misfortune, while the brother assures Ed that he probably knew her better than anybody.

The film was enjoyable, but was ruined by too many clichés.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”