Thursday, March 06, 2014


Cleo Moore works at a dive waterfront diner for her father's old friend (Leonid Snegoff); he tells her he keeps her on as a favor to her late father, but Moore knows that Snegoff cheated her dad out of money and one night, she steals $25,000 dollars from him and buries in the woods. She is arrested and confesses but won't say what she did with the money so she's sent to jail. As a model prisoner, she gets an early release and returns to the waterfront to find that Snegoff has left and sold the diner to Hugo Haas, who seems somewhat slimy but who, once Moore proves that she's got gumption, takes a fatherly interest in her. Meanwhile, Moore bides her time before going off to get the buried money because she knows she's being watched by detectives. She begins a flirtation with handsome fisherman Glenn Langan and even considers offering him some of her cash to buy new equipment for his business. When Haas loses his savings and his business to gambling debts, Moore sends him to get the money. He returns empty-handed claiming it wasn't there, but she's sure he’s cheating her, so she plots a deadly revenge.

To say more about the last 20 minutes or so would spoil a good movie. It’s a B-film with second-level talent, but generally the best noir films benefit from a less glossy treatment. Haas wrote and directed as well as acted, and the script could use a rewrite to get rid of some plotholes, but the movie gets by on a good grungy look, a couple of nice plot twists, and strong performances. Moore, a Marilyn Monroe-ish blonde bombshell (pictured above with Langan) has a reputation as a Queen of the B's; this is the first time I’ve seen her in a starring role and, while she's a bit one-note, she fits the part well. This movie is in a DVD set called Bad Girls of Film Noir, and though she isn't truly "bad" here, she is a little rough around the edges. Haas and Langan are as good as they need to be, and Haas' character winds up being the most interesting of the batch, partly because we're not always clear on his motivation from one scene to the next. Haas also directed and wrote the film. No other cast members stand out, though baby-boomers will recognize Burt Mustin in a small role—he appeared at least once in practically every 60s and early 70s TV show (I'm not kidding—check IMDb!). I think I'm now a Cleo Moore fan. [DVD]

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