WHEEL OF FORTUNE (A MAN BETRAYED)(CITADEL OF CRIME)
(director: John H. Auer; screenwriters: from the story by Jack Moffitt/Tom Kilpatrick; cinematographer: Jack A. Marta; editor: Charles Craft; music: Cy Feuer; cast: John Wayne (Lynn Hollister), Frances Dee (Sabra Cameron), Edward Ellis (Boss Thomas ‘Tom’ Cameron), Wallace Ford (Casey, ‘Globe’ newspaper reporter), Ward Bond (Floyd, Amato’s Goon), Harold Huber (Morris ‘Morrie’ Slade), Alexander Granach (T. Amato, Club Inferno Manager), Barnett Parker (George, the Cameron’s Butler); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Armand Schaefer; Republic; 1941)
“The Duke looking out of place as a hayseed lawyer stomping around the Big Apple looking for a murderer while trying to deal with big-city corruption.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A snappy crime drama/comedy that is a minor film, with the Duke looking out of place as a hayseed lawyer stomping around the Big Apple looking for a murderer while trying to deal with big-city corruption. It’s adapted from a story by Jack Moffitt and written by Tom Kilpatrick. Director John H. Auer (“City That Never Sleeps”) keeps the action moving at a fast pace and makes the most out of the slight story, but not enough to make it work.
A young man named John from rural Spring Valley is shot dead in the street after leaving Manhattan’s Club Inferno and his death is called a suicide. His close hometown friend Lynn Hollister (John Wayne), a lawyer on his first case, arrives in the big city to investigate, not believing it’s possible for the basketball player to have committed suicide. Tom Cameron (Edward Ellis) is a shady political boss, who runs things in the city. The person killed came out of the club Tom is associated with and though he didn’t authorize the shooting his henchman, the club manager Amato (Alexander Granach), saw fit to have his mentally challenged goon Floyd (Ward Bond) bump John off in fear he would squeal about the gambling games being crooked. With the elections fast-approaching, Tom wanted to keep the scandal out of the papers and therefore the coverup. The persistent Lynn is thrown a bone to keep him off the trail, as Tom’s beautiful daughter Sabra (Frances Dee) agrees to escort the ruggedly handsome Lynn around town and the two fall in love for real.
The bulk of the film has hayseed Lynn conducting his investigation by making everyone happy with his small town charm and giving off with some great smiles. It seemed more a light comedy than a mystery story, a film that never gets untracked but can be mildly diverting because of the star qualities of Wayne and Dee.
It was released on American TV as Wheel of Fortune (the version I saw). In Great Britain it was called Citadel of Crime. It has more commonly been called A Man Betrayed, as it was originally released for theaters.
REVIEWED ON 9/9/2005 GRADE: C+