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HIT AND RUN (director/writer: Hugo Haas; screenwriter: from a story by Herbert Q. Phillips; cinematographer: Walter Strenge; editor: Stefan Arnsten; cast: Cleo Moore (Julie), Hugo Haas (Gus),Vince Edwards (Frank), Mara Lea (Anita, waitress), Dolores Reed (Miranda), Pat Goldin (Undertaker), Julie Mitchum (Undertaker’s Wife), Carl Milletaire (Eddie Ferguson, Lawyer), Jan Englund (Clara), Robert Cassidy (Sheriff); Runtime: 84; United Artists; 1957)
“A satisfying B-film noir.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A satisfying B-film noir that has a nice twist in its story. The hammy acting of the director/writer and star, Hugo Haas, helps instead of hinders.

Julie (Cleo Moore) is an attractive blonde second-rate actress who is fed up with traveling and not getting anywhere in her career. She meets in a bar a wealthy older man Gus (Hugo Haas), who owns a gas station-junk yard. In a drunken stupor, he proposes to her after offering her a free car to go to her next gig. In the morning Julie comes by his junk yard to get the car and tells him the place reminds her of walking in a cemetery. But she quits her showbiz career because she’s tired of the road and stays in town, as she is attracted to the money and security the rich older man offers.

Gus’ handsome young mechanic Frankie (Edwards) takes an outwardly negative view of Julie and tells Gus to get rid of the gold digger. Instead Gus marries her. Filled with jealousy because he really loves her, Frankie tells Gus he’s quitting. When Frankie’s alone with Julie, he kisses her hard and tells her that he wants her to be his girl. But she tells him it’s too late she married his boss and resists his offer.

But Frankie is persistent and enacts the scheme he worked out without Julie’s knowledge or approval, by getting her to take a drive with him in a broken-down car he fixed that was taken from Gus’s lot. Frankie goes out to an old abandoned house Gus owns and when he sees him walking along the dirt road, he runs his car into him to make it look like a hit-and-run accident.

Warning: spoiler in the next two paragraphs.

What they both didn’t know was that Gus has a twin brother Dave who just got out of San Quentin and looks just like him (he should look like him because he’s also played by Hugo). The couple don’t realize it is Dave they have killed.

Gus lets his lawyer and the sheriff in on his plan to trap the couple by pretending to be Dave. After Gus’ will gives Dave a half-share of the estate with Julie, he moves in with the couple and starts exacting his revenge.

REVIEWED ON 10/25/2001 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”