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Monday, November 4, 2013

NEW ORLEANS UNCENSORED

Before earning cult notoriety for horror/exploitation pics like MACABRE/’58 and THE TINGLER/’59, William Castle ground out programmers like this pseudo ripped-from-the-headlines drama, released thru Columbia Pictures. Here, he fritters away some decent dramatic possibilities in setting (New Orleans warehouse district & docks) & subject matter (waterfront corruption) borrowed from a couple of famous Elia Kazan pics (PANIC IN THE STREETS/’50; ON THE WATERFRONT/’54). Castle megs in a flat visual style, but tries to compensate by letting his cast ham things up, the worst of both worlds. Rarely have emotion & plot twists been quite so baldly ‘indicated.’ (Actually, the best acting comes from some stiff, real-life city officials, stunt cast for verisimilitude; along with background extras seen in a few ‘stolen’ pick-up shots.) The basic plot & structure are perfectly workable (out-of-towner exposes dockside pilfering at his own risk after a fast rise inside the union), and there’s even a romantic misstep by the lead that raises some interesting possibilities. Not that anyone bothers to follow up on them. After a while, assuming you’re still watching, you can amuse yourself imagining what some B-list ace like Phil Karlson or Don Siegel, both gigging @ Columbia around this time, might have done with this set up and a chance to shoot some action scenes in real New Orleans locations.*

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *As comparison, check out what Karlson does with Reno, Nevada even in a punk film like 5 AGAINST THE HOUSE/’55, or Siegel working the streets of San Francisco in the considerably better THE LINEUP/’58.

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