Thursday, March 18, 2010


Sometimes I "discover" actors by serendipity because I just happen to watch two or more movies in which they have featured roles in just a few days time. That happened recently with Bruce Cabot, whom I mostly know as Fay Wray's romantic partner (that is, the human one) in KING KONG. Not long after I’d seen him in SUNDOWN, TCM showed this relatively rare movie with Cabot putting in a solid B-film action lead performance, looking a little bit like an Indiana Jones-era Harrison Ford. Big blazing headlines tell us that there's a crime wave and a gang war going in town, and cop Cabot is pissed that the people won't let the police indiscriminately whoop some ass; "No violations of Constitutional rights," he sneers. Thug Marc Lawrence kills a man in a pool hall and there appears to be an open and shut case against him, but when new crime lab boss Rita Hayworth (looking almost nothing like Rita Hayworth) can't get the physical evidence to match up, Cabot realizes they’ve been "stung" by Lawrence and his cohorts, who have messed with the weapon and the getaway car. Further investigation shows that Lawrence is working for the local Junk Dealers' Trade Association, headed up by Norman Willis, which is actually a front for what is essentially a spy ring selling valuable scrap metal to "foreign war lords"--with the U.S. still officially neutral, the filmmakers didn't dare name Japan or Germany as the obvious destinations for the metal. Cabot roughs up Lawrence, and the crook winds up seriously injured when he falls out of a window; the press trumpets police brutality charges and Cabot is taken off the case, though he continues doing what work he can surreptitiously. One junk dealer who agrees to talk to Cabot is killed by Willis's goons. There's a fairly exciting chase climax that ends on board the ship that is about to haul the metal off to Axisland. The supporting cast doesn't have a lot of familiar faces, but Cabot held my attention, though it is unfortunate that Hayworth's role as a 30's CSI-type is so small. An entertaining B-thriller, which had a great publicity tagline on its initial release: "There's lots of law… in a right to the jaw!" [TCM]

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