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DOWN THREE DARK STREETS (director: Arnold Laven; screenwriters: from book by G & M Gordon “Case File: F.B.I.”/Bernard Schoenfeld; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Grant Whytock; cast: Broderick Crawford (Ripley), Ruth Roman (Kate Martell), Martha Hyer (Connie Anderson), Marisa Pavan (Julie Angelino), Max Showalter (Dave Millson), Ken Tobey (Zack Stewart), Jay Adler (Uncle Max), Gene Reynolds (Vince Angelino), Joe Bassett (Joe Walpo), Suzanne Alexander (Brenda Ralles), Claude Akins (Matty Pavelich), Myra Marsh (Mrs. Downes), Alexander Campbell (Alex); Runtime: 85; United Artists; 1954)
“The guilty party stood out like a right-wing Republican at a Grateful Dead concert.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Routine but competently made B-film crime story. It’s a spinoff of Dragnet, as it is filmed in the same breezy documentary style and is also set in Los Angeles. Broderick Crawford is FBI agent Ripley, a no-nonsense sleuth in charge of the criminal investigation. It follows three non-related cases that agent Zack Stewart (Tobey) was working on before he got killed in the line of duty. The film gives you the feel of how the FBI tracks down its suspects, but it fails to be anything more than watchable.

Agent Stewart is involved in three cases, but Ripley takes over when they receive a tip from Brenda Ralles (Alexander) that she must see him about a case he’s working on and he gets killed while trying to stop a man coming out of her apartment. The FBI believes the agent’s killer is involved in one of these cases that Zack was working on:1) tracking down Joe Walpo, who is wanted for killing a gas station attendant, bank robberies, and hi-jackings. The agents question his sexy girlfriend Connie Anderson (Hyer) and keep tabs on her, knowing that she still receives gifts from Joe. The agents put the squeeze on her. 2) Getting Vincent Angelino (Reynolds) to tell them the names of those in a car ring who hired him to steal a car. The agents question his cooperative blind wife, Julie (Pavan), urging her to tell her innocent husband he’ll get out of jail if he’ll just name names. 3) Kate Martell (Roman) receives a threatening call from an extortionist who wants the $10,000 she just received from her husband’s insurance company after he died in a car accident. The extortionist threatens to kill her young daughter if she doesn’t cooperate. The agents narrow the suspected killer down to three: Uncle Max, a former bunco operator who resides with Kate; Dave Milson, a potential boyfriend and friend of her husband’s who is a real estate agent and acts smarmy; and, a neighbor Alex (Campbell), who is a bookkeeper who just lost his job and is always around prying.

The husband and wife team of the Gordons wrote the story, but didn’t really put too much mystery in it. The guilty party stood out like a right-wing Republican at a Grateful Dead concert. Sterling performances by Crawford and Roman, gave the film an uplift. But I still prefer a Charlie Chan mystery.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”