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TOUGH ASSIGNMENT (director: William Beaudine; screenwriters: Milton Luban/from the story by Carl K. Hittleman; cinematographer: Benjamin Kline; editor: Harry Gerstad; music: Albert Glasser; cast: Don Barry (Dan Reilly), Marjorie Steele(Margie Reilly), Steve Brodie (Boss Morgan), Marc Lawrence (Vince), Ben Welden (Sniffy), Sid Melton (Herman), Leander De Cordova(Schultz, butcher), Edit Angold (Mrs. Schultz), Michael Whalen (‘Hutch’ Hutchison, editor), Frank Richards (Steve), Fred Kohler Jr. (Grant, head rancher), Stanley Price (Al Foster, butcher); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Carl K. Hittleman; VCI Entertainment; 1949)
“Unimpressive time killer, low-rent crime drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William “One Take” Beaudine (“Voodoo Man”/”Boys Will Be Boys”/”Billy The Kid vs. Dracula”) is a seasoned director of B-films known for always getting his films done on time by just using one take, which makes him the perfect director for this cheapo Lippert Pictures production. Beaudine turns in an unimpressive time killer, low-rent crime drama, that’s a blend of Western (horses) and contemporary crime yarn (cars and trucks). The programmer is packaged on DVD as Forgotten Noir Vol. 5, with the 1955 B-film FBI Girl, starring Cesar Romero, as the other part of the double feature.

Dan Reilly (Don Barry) is a newly married newspaper reporter to bright-eyed photographer Margie (Marjorie Steele), who so far hasn’t experienced a home-cooked meal. While stopping off at their favorite butcher shop to get the meat for their home-cooked meal, they stop in front of the shop to take a picture of this auspicious event. But three thugs get in the shot as they come storming out of the shop and ruin the picture. Inside the shop they discover the butcher Schultz has been beaten, but is too scared to talk or call the police. Dan senses a story here and rushes home to develop the pictures, but the same thugs enter his house and rough him up and steal the pictures. Dan talks his editor into letting him investigate, and he soon finds out that the thugs are not in the protection racket but are cattle rustlers. They steal cattle from honest ranchers and sell the uninspected meat to small butcher shops. Dan’s story about rustling becomes headline news in the local paper.

The story disturbs the racketeers, and the goons kidnap, blindfold and rough Dan up to warn him to stop writing stories about them. Dan doesn’t listen and follows their meat truck one day after it delivers to Schultz, which leads him to a country ranch run by Grant (Fred Kohler Jr.) and his low-life hired-hands. The reporter now gets more daring, as the couple get hired by the rustlers as cooks and quickly become part of the rustling operation. This leads to them setting a trap for the dangerous gang, and nabbing the big boss (Steve Brodie) with the help of the police.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”