(director: Anthony Mann; screenwriters: story by Gertrude Walker/John C. Higgins; cinematographer: Guy Roe; editor: Louis H. Sackin; music: Alvin Levin; cast: John Ireland (Duke Martin), Sheila Ryan (Rosa Ryan), Hugh Beaumont (Mickey Ferguson), Jane Randolph (Clara Calhoun), Ed Kelly (Steve Ryan), Keefe Brasselle (Cowie Kowalski), Peggy Converse (Marie), Hermine Sterler (Mrs. Ryan), Charles D. Brown (Capt. McTaggart); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles “Chuck” Riesner; Eagle-Lion; 1947)
“Held together by John Ireland’s nasty performance as the heartless villain without redemption.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A second-rate crime thriller made before Anthony Mann (“Desperate”) reached prime time. Railroaded is a well-crafted and fast-paced mystery tale. It’s a low-budget film noir that is held together by John Ireland’s nasty performance as the heartless villain without redemption. The hard-boiled screenplay is by John C. Higgins; the film is adapted from a story by Gertrude Walker.
Duke Martin (John Ireland) and Cowie Kowalski (Keefe Brasselle) are armed masked robbers of a beauty salon that served as a front for a bookie racket. The botched robbery results in a beat cop slain and Cowie seriously wounded, as one of the beauticians, Marie (Peggy Converse), screams in fright provoking gunfire from both sides. The other beautician, Clara Calhoun (Jane Randolph), is Duke’s sultry girlfriend who is running on the side an illegal gambling operation. The owner of the Club Bombay nightclub is Duke’s boss who runs the gambling operation. Duke has ingratiated himself with the boss as his money collector but has been secretly skimming money off the take. In Duke’s impatience to get money even faster, he robs the gambling operation of its day’s take never thinking anything could go wrong.
Clara gives the cops, led by lead investigator homicide sergeant Mickey Ferguson (Hugh Beaumont), a false eyewitness report contradicting Marie’s. The cops soon arrest Cowie and before he dies he fingers the innocent local deliveryman Steve Ryan (Ed Kelly) as his crime partner and the one who shot the cop. Besides Cowie fingering him, Steve’s laundry truck was stolen and used as the getaway vehicle and his initialed navy scarf was found at the scene of the crime.
Mickey, who arrested Steve, has fallen in love with his sister Rosa (Sheila Ryan), who is certain her brother couldn’t do such a violent crime. The two start out as enemies but then join forces together to free Steve, as they track down witnesses and clues that ultimately link Duke to the crime. Rosa takes a big chance by getting close to the dangerous Duke in the hopes of exposing him, but this proves to be risky as the gunman has been bumping off anyone he thinks can pin the crime on him.
The plot was uninteresting and predictable, while the acting was so-so. The film’s most memorable development is that the trigger-happy gunman is in the habit of perfuming his bullets. The film’s best quote comes from Duke’s crime boss “Women should be struck regularly like gongs,” according to Oscar Wilde. Somehow quotes from Wilde in such a tawdry film didn’t quite seem to fit in a sensible way.
REVIEWED ON 10/5/2004 GRADE: C-