Year 1950

Mickey Rooney   as  Dan Brady
Jeanne Cagney as Vera Novak
Peter Lorre as Nick Dramoshag  
Barbara Bates as Helen
Jack Elam as Bar Patron
Director - Irving Pichel
Screenwriter - Robert Smith

I must be an anal compulsive to even spend time writing up comments for this one. Is it really worth the time to do this?

This is supposed to be a piece about how a simple act can lead to other more complex ones until you're in so far over your head that you'll smother. Sometimes, the progression depicted actually makes sense.

Dan Brady (Mickey Rooney) is an automobile mechanic with an attractive brunette who keeps throwing herself at him. He treats her like dirt and she's okay with that. It's not that he's cruel about it. He tells her that he doesn't want her to get hurt while he's hurting her. But, she's in luv, l-u-v.

Dan has in eye on "hot" blonde femme fatale Vera Novak (Jeanne Cagney). Yeah, there's a dirty quality to her that could make her desirable. But the other girl, Helen (Barbara Bates), is prettier.

Still, Dan wants the blonde. He "borrows" money from work. To pay it back he hocks a watch. To get the watch out of hock he robs someone. All in the house that Jack built.

It's a nice gimmick and Jeanne Cagney plays the hard-boiled doll wonderfully. She's not much taller than Mickey Rooney and that adds some credibility to the possibility that he might have a chance with her.

Peter Lorre as the sleazy arcade parlor owner Nick Dramoshag is top notch. After seeing Mr. Lorre in the relatively obscure gem M, I have a newfound appreciation of his acting abilities and look for him to always turn in quality work. Even as the low life of this movie, he does not disappoint.

Despite the actors, this movie is flawed and there are some scenes that make you want to say, "What?" Frequently, these moments involve the police.

For example, the cops tell Dan that they're sorry they shot him because they hadn't realized that he'd dropped his gun. Did this sort of apology actually happen at one time? Were cops more concerned with the people they were arresting than with determining how much force was allowed?

When the cops search Vera's apartment, they don't have a warrant. Maybe this was okay back then, too.

Hold onto your credibility cap here, kids! In one scene, Dan kidnaps a lawyer. In return, the shylock gives Dan advice...for free. There's no mention of a law suit; this attorney will only press charges if he has to go to Mexico as a kidnap victim. Was California ever like this?

In the end, despite the fact that Dan has robbed a man, stolen a car, run from the police, etc., because it's only his first (second, third, fourth, etc.) offence he'll probably be out of prison after a short time. Huh? His lawyer, the angel he'd originally kidnapped, should have been on O.J.'s defense team if he could do that.

There are enough cringe worthy moments ("Oh, no! He's not going to do that is he?") to make this watchable. There's even a cameo from Jack Elam. He may have even been young then. (With Jack Elam it's hard to tell since he never looked young.)

The movie is better than a poke in the eye and on a par with most modern "blockbusters" except that there are no special effects.

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