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DOUBLE DEAL (director: Abby Berlin; screenwriters: Charles Belden/Lee Berman/story by Don McGuire; cinematographer: Frank Redman; editor: Robert Swink; music: Constantin Bakaleinikoff; cast: Marie Windsor (Terry Miller), Richard Denning (Buzz Doyle), Taylor Holmes (C.D. ‘Corpus’ Mills), Fay Baker (Lilly Sebastian), James Griffith (Walter Karnes), Carleton Young (Reno Sebastian), Tom Browne Henry (Sheriff L.G. Morelli); Runtime: 64; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: James T. Vaughn; RKO; 1950)
“A fast-paced and competently made B-film mystery thriller involving intrigue over oil wells.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A fast-paced and competently made B-film mystery thriller involving intrigue over oil wells that comes with a surprise plot twist. Abby Berlin, on loan from Columbia, directs this RKO produced flick. It’s based on a story by Don McGuire and scripted by Charles Belden and Lee Berman.

Unemployed oil engineer Buzz Doyle (Richard Denning) arrives early in the morning by bus to an unnamed Oklahoma small-town in an area of oil digging. At the Cafe Mecca, he gets into a back room crap game with his last $9 and discovers the winner, Walter Karnes (James Griffith), is playing with loaded dice. The big loser is oil man Reno Sebastian (Carleton Young), who is grateful for the stranger’s help and offers him a job as his chief engineer in bringing in an oil well. Reno’s attractive lady friend is Terry Miller (Marie Windsor), who tells Buzz one of the perks of the job is that he can date her. Buzz is also informed that the job is dangerous as Reno’s greedy demonic sister Lily (Fay Baker) wants to make sure any way she can, which includes hiring thugs as intimidaters, that Reno’s wells don’t come in on time before his lease runs out and thereby she’ll snap up those wells. Their oil man father left them equal shares of the land, but her oil wells came in–making her the richest one in town, while her brother’s haven’t.

When Lily can’t bribe Buzz to work for her, she has Karnes’s hired thugs work Buzz over. The sheriff arrests Buzz when Reno’s corpse is discovered in his hotel room. In Reno’s will, held by drunken lawyer Corpus Mills (Taylor Holmes), also once an oil man before hitting bad times and the bottle, he leaves the oil wells to Lily. She begs Buzz to stay and become her partner. It leads to a running battle with Lily, another murder and a big surprise at who is behind these killings.

If you’re not too critical of all the plot holes and the incredible scenario manufactured, then you might sit back and go all the way with this oily tale. The acting is fine; in particular, I found Marie Windsor enjoyable as the vulnerable would-be oil tycoon. REVIEWED ON 6/21/2005 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”