As we continue to celebrate the month of “Noir-vember,” we now come to the 1954 film Down Three Dark Streets, starring Broderick Crawford and Ruth Roman.
FBI agent Zack Stewart (Kenneth Tobey) finds himself trying to work on three different cases: 1) the hunt for a killer, Joe Walpo (Joe Bassett); 2) interstate car thefts, with Vince Angelino (Gene Reynolds) involved and unwilling to tell what he knows; and 3) somebody trying to extort money from Kate Martell (Ruth Roman) by threatening her daughter. Zack does what he can with those three cases before he is called by another woman, Brenda Ralles (Suzanne Alexander), who claims she needs to see him that night about one of his cases. However, when he goes to her home, he is shot by somebody else. Fellow agent John “Rip” Ripley (Broderick Crawford), who had gone along with him on that call, is assigned Zack’s three cases, in the hope that, by solving them, the FBI can find his murderer. To go after Joe Walpo, Rip tries to get a rise out of Walpo’s girlfriend, Connie Anderson (Martha Hyer). As for the car thieves, Rip believes Vince to be innocent, and tries to ask Vince’s wife, Julie (Marisa Pavan), to help out. As for Kate Martell, he tries to learn from her who could possibly try to extort money from her, and tries to help protect her and her daughter. Of course, none of them know anything about Brenda Ralles (who is soon murdered herself), and so all Rip can do is try to help everybody out.
Down Three Dark Streets was based on the novel Case Files: FBI, written by the husband and wife team of Gordon and Mildred Gordon. Gordon Gordon was himself a former FBI agent, which certainly lends a bit of authenticity to the story. They actually ended up being the screenwriters for the movie, with the original plan being to retain the novel’s title. However, at the time, most screenplays that dealt with the FBI were submitted to the FBI itself to be approved, and J. Edgar Hoover himself objected, claiming that the movie could help criminals, not only by showing what extortionists could do, but also what the FBI would do to combat them. I’m not sure what else was changed, but the film’s title switched from Case Files: FBI to the film’s current title.
I’ll admit, this one is more police procedural than noir, but I still like it. It’s interesting watching them trying to solve three cases at once. Admittedly, this is also part of the movie’s failing, as it FEELS like the three cases don’t get equal screen time, and the one that seems to get more, well, you can guess it’s importance to the overall story. Not to mention, in some respects the billing gives it away. Still, I enjoyed it, with a familiar face or two, plus characters that you want to cheer for, characters that creep you out, and everything in between. It’s not the best police procedural I’ve seen, as I easily think He Walked By Night surpasses it (and maybe T-Men as well), but it’s worth trying. If you get a chance to see it, give it a shot!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix. It’s a typical transfer from them (which means it looks pretty good)! There are some specks and dust here and there, but they’re almost not worth mentioning. If you want to see this movie, then the Classicflix release is the way to go!
Film Length: 1 hour, 26 minutes
My Rating: 8/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Ruth Roman – Great Day In The Morning (1956)
Coming Up Shorts! with… Puppet Love (1944)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!
(Length: 7 minutes, 32 seconds)
Bluto creates a life-size puppet that looks like Popeye, and uses it to make Popeye look bad with Olive. A fun little cartoon with the Popeye puppet and Popeye using Bluto as a puppet. Yes, it’s still Popeye vs. Bluto, but it still feels a lot more fresh than later cartoons. This is one I’ve seen a number of times over the years, and I still enjoy the various gags. Of course, I also enjoy seeing this short restored and looking better than it has in a long time!
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!