Thursday, March 20, 2014


FBI agent Chester Morris grabs a female bystander (Frances Mercer) and pushes her to safety while he and his fellow agents nab some dangerous crooks. At first, she's upset but he thaws her out a bit and they go on their separate ways. The DA gets Morris to leave the FBI and take a high-profile job in his office, but Morris soon realizes that it's basically a do-nothing position; he's just there to make the DA's office look good. Frustrated, he almost quits but decides to take on the slot machine racket, which is headed by crooked lawyer Bruce Cabot. In doing so, he runs into Mercer again; her younger sister (Rita Johnson) is dating Cabot. After a child is accidentally killed in a roughing-up that the thugs give a shop owner who doesn't want slots in his store, Morris manages to put an end the racket (though Cabot's nose remains clean), is made a special prosecutor, and then doubles down on efforts to stop Cabot, even if that means trouble for Johnson.

This routine B-crime movie is enlivened by a couple of interesting scenes: in the first, Morris and his associates torture a thug in order to get the thug's buddy to talk; in the second, Morris subjects a gathering of young women (it's unclear if they are waitresses or hookers, but their testimony is crucial to Morris's case) to a viewing of a dead woman pulled out of the river, killed by Cabot's thugs. Neither scene winds up being exactly what it seems, but it's still startling to see them in a movie of this era. Morris (pictured) is fine, but Cabot is better, and it's never a good idea to have the bad guy outdo the good guy. Cecil Kellaway has a small uncredited role, and Libby Taylor gets to play an African-American woman who isn't a maid. [TCM]

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