Written by Earl Felton & Harry Essex. Directed by Robert Stevenson. A couple arrives in Las Vegas to do some gambling and things get twisty. Running time 1 hour 28 minutes.
Lloyd Rollins (Vincent Price) is a wealthy man married to Linda (Jane Russell) an ex-singer with a past. He convinces her to stop in Las Vegas for some gambling and fun on their way back from a business trip in Boston. Linda’s hesitant about going as she was once a singer at the Last Chance casino and she’s uncertain about running into her old flame, Lt. Dave Andrews (Victor Mature) but she agrees to the trip. It isn’t long before Lloyd gambles himself into a big hole and starts using Linda’s diamond necklace as collateral. Meanwhile, Linda’s a bit tired from being ignored so she heads off to her old haunt Last Chance to catch up with piano player and old friend Happy (Hoagy Carmichael). It’s there she also meets Tom Hubler (Brad Dexter) who happens to work for the insurance company keeping an eye on the diamond necklace.
Lloyd gets himself even deeper in debt as he runs out of options for more gambling money. Linda learns Lloyd has lost a lot more money than the just the gambling money and is so desperate, Lloyd has hocked her necklace to the owner of the Last Chance in order to win his money back. When that fails, the owner of the casino, Clayton (Robert J. Wilke) is found dead and Lloyd is the prime suspect. During the midst of the investigation, Linda and Dave walk down memory lane and rekindle their romance. A couple of hints here and there by secondary characters reveal the real killer who kidnaps Linda and takes her out the desert. Dave races out there to rescue Linda and bring the killer to justice. Lloyd’s reputation is restored and he and Linda leave Las Vegas and return to their lives.
What I liked
These Film Noir types are always fun. The twisty turns of the plot. No one is ever who they seem. Every moment is dramatic, even in the comedy, and the action is jam-packed in the final moments. The air field scenes running through the hanger and up and around the tower with the dusty wind is fantastic. The costuming for Jane Russell is gorgeous, but, to be fair–she steals any scene she’s in. It wouldn’t matter what she had on. It was great to see Vincent Price in a non-horror yet still kind of a bad guy film. He’s wonderfully dramatic and also wonderfully charismatic on screen. The dialogue is full of innuendo and double meanings, I think I’ve said it before, I need a glossary of terms sometimes watching Film Noir.
There are so many elements to films of this genre, sub plots, character schemes, and studio extras like– Jane Russell singing. It was probably in her contract at the time to have at least one singing scene; although, it’s clear watching her, she’s much more talented than one gimmick.
What I Wished Was Better
Some scenes are so awkwardly weird, it makes you wonder why they’re there. There’s a subplot about a young couple who wants to get married because the man is going into the military, but they’re under age so Lt. Dave Andrews doesn’t allow them to get their license without their parents approval. They get sent away only to come back later in the film to say they got permission and got married and they have Lt. Dave to thank. The groom then says it’s only fair the Lt. should kiss his new bride–WHICH HE DOES. Then the bride says to Linda, “I guess it would only be fair if you were to kiss Bill.” To which Linda replies, “If I kissed Bill, there wouldn’t be anything fair about it.” SNAP. I could’ve done without this scene. It’s just so cringy—Here’s my new bride, everyone have a go! Gross.
Film Noir is juicy, dramatic, twist and turny, and always a good time. When I watch it, I cannot stop myself from going: “dun, dun, DUN!” at critical moments. Other expressions include: “Wait. WHAT?!” and “I thought…. (fill in the blanks). Completely engaging in so many ways. Available on Hulu and Amazon. Watch the trailer below:
Fun Facts: The night before the premiers, Jane Russell’s husband punched her in face a bunch of times–due to an argument (as if that’s an excuse)–and her face was left swollen and black and blue. She still went to the premier all beat up but the studio told the press a severe wind pushed a car door into her face. WOW. Screenwriter Paul Jerrico had his writing credit removed by the studio boss Howard Hughes after Jerrico was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committe for alleged communist activities. Great time to be in the film industry…