Beverly Garland and Barry Sullivan in The Miami Story (1954)


(director: Fred Sears; screenwriter: Robert Kent/story by Mr. Kent; cinematographer: Henry Freulich; editor: Viola Lawrence; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Barry Sullivan (Mick Flagg), Luther Adler (Tony Brill), John Baer (Ted Delacorte), Adele Jergens (Gwen Abbott), Beverly Garland (Holly Abbott), Dan Riss (Frank Alton), Damian O’Flynn (Chief Martin Belman), Chris Alcaide (Robert Bishop), Tom Greenway (Charles Earnshaw), George E. Stone (Louie Mott), David Kasday (Gil Flagg), Gene Darcy (Johnny Loker), Lili St. Cyr (Herself), George A. Smathers (Himself, as Senator); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Katzman; Columbia Pictures; 1954)
“A routine crime thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Fred Sears directs a routine crime thriller from a story by Robert Kent. Barry Sullivan plays ex-con Mick Flagg, a Chicago gangster who helps the police put a powerful Miami crime boss, Tony Brill (Luther Adler), behind bars. It is shot in a semi-documentary style with a narrator relating the action.

Warning: spoilers throughout.

The feds and the Miami police chief Martin Belman hire reformed gangster Mickey Flagg to work undercover for them to get info on Tony Brill that would put him in jail, something they haven’t been able to do on their own due to the crime lord’s cleverness. Flagg agrees for the following reasons: the $50,000 offered, to redeem himself in the eyes of his young son and because twelve years ago Brill framed him on a murder charge which got him a prison sentence. Leaving his Indiana farm, Flagg poses as head of a Cuban syndicate trying to muscle in on Brill’s gambling operations run from the Biscayne Club casino. Flagg enlists the help of nice girl hoofer Holly Abbott (Beverly Garland) just arriving from Cuba to track down her missing older sister hoofer Gwen (Adele Jergens), last seen in the company of Brill’s mobsters. Holly witnessed the murder of two Cuban hoods on the plane whom she hoped would help find her sis, rivals of Brill’s, who were gunned down as soon as they landed in Miami. The police believe Brill had them killed over a turf war, but can’t prove it.

Flagg’s plan to nail Brill begins when he springs a low-level Brill gang member, bookie Louie Mott, from jail. From him, Flagg learns that Ted Delacorte, Brill’s protégé, is the one who launders the money for the mob. Catching him in the act will give the police what they need to put away the shrewd Brill. In the next part of his plan, Flagg provokes Brill by warning him that his days are numbered in this town and that his Cuban syndicate will be taking over the gambling operations in town. This harassing action brings Brill out in the open, and when his club is closed in a police raid he realizes Flagg has juice with the authorities and opts to go after him. In a predictable fashion Flagg leads Brill into a trap, where he unwittingly confesses his crimes on TV cameras planted as bugs in his casino. But before Brill is arrested Flagg must rescue his son, who was kidnapped by Brill’s gang.

The funniest line in the film had Holly pointing a gun at Flagg while he’s undressing and telling him: “No matter how much you take off, my gun will still keep you covered.” It’s too bad the rest of the film couldn’t match that witty dialogue.


REVIEWED ON 11/13/2004 GRADE: C+