Anthony Quinn, Peggie Castle, and Dolores Donlon in The Long Wait (1954)




(director: Victor Saville; screenwriters: Alan Green/Lesser Samuels/from the book The Long Wait by Mickey Spillane; cinematographer: Franz Planer; editors: Otto Ludwig/Ronald Sinclair; music: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco; cast: Anthony Quinn (Johnny McBride), Charles Coburn (Gardiner), Gene Evans (Servo), Peggie Castle (Venus), Mary Ellen Kay (Wendy Miller), Shawn Smith (Carol Shay), Dolores Donlon (Troy Avilard), Barry Kelley (Tucker), Bruno Ve Sota (Eddie Packman), James Millican (Capt. Lindsey), Jay Adler (Bellboy), John Damler (Alan Logan), Frank Marlowe (Pop Henderson); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lesser Samuels; United Artists; 1954)

“Tedious and pointless film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Victor Saville directs this bleak and cynical crime drama about corruption in a small city. The Long Wait is based on the pulp fiction book by Mickey Spillane (there’s no Mike Hammer around to pick up the actionless pieces); the screenplay is by Alan Green and Lesser Samuels. It suffers from a murky story, weak acting, and uninspired direction. It’s a rather tedious and pointless film, that is filled with unbelievably large plot holes that can’t be overcome.

An unidentified Johnny McBride (Anthony Quinn) after hitching a ride is involved in an auto accident, where he ends up in an exploding car in a ditch. He recovers but has amnesia and no ID papers, they went up in flames during the crash. He works for two years in a neighboring state on an oil rig, and returns to his hometown, Lyncastle, to try and discover his identity. He’s arrested, and discovers he’s wanted for a bank robbery of $250,000 and the murder of the honest DA. The police have no evidence to hold the former teller on murder charges because the burns on his fingers leave no fingerprints. Johnny also learns from Pop Henderson, who is the desk clerk at the hotel he resides at, that his girlfriend Vera West, the bank president’s secretary, disappeared but returned about a year ago with unrecognizable plastic surgery. It turns out she could be any one of the following four women: Carol Shay, who works as an office secretary for local mobster businessman Servo (Gene Evans); Troy Avilard, Servo’s kept girlfriend; Venus, who runs a beauty salon owned by Servo; or, Wendy Miller, who works in Servo’s casino.

Johnny meets with the amiable bank president, Gardiner (Charles Coburn), who suspiciously offers him a big check and suggests that he goes to NYC until the corrupt town is cleaned-up.

But Johnny stays in town and starts to ruffle feathers by his pointed questions. Servo’s henchmen take Johnny for a one-way ride, but that is foiled when Johnny overcomes them. Servo also has Pop Henderson killed and takes pot shots at Johnny. This only makes Johnny more determined to find the killer, as he becomes convinced of his innocence and that there are those in town who don’t want him to regain his memory. It predictably leads to a violent conclusion where Johnny rescues a ‘babe in distress’ and shoots it out with the thugs. The film’s most noteworthy scene had Venus crawling on a factory floor with her hands bound to give a bound Johnny his last kiss.

The film noir had Anthony Quinn playing a roughhouse stud of a teller, which was a bad casting decision. It also wanders all over the map in its overplotted storytelling until it gets to the obvious, that Johnny was framed by Servo’s mysterious big boss.

REVIEWED ON 12/30/2004 GRADE: C-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/