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Thursday, February 27, 2014

CRY VENGEANCE (1954)

Mark Stevens, a journeyman actor who made a decent rep playing tough dicks in films noir, stars in and makes his directing debut here. Rounding up the usual suspects (and plot) for a typical noir outing, Stevens, as director, is all thumbs, turning out a near vanity project. He’s a wronged cop, fresh from jail, now tracking down the goon who planted the car bomb that killed his wife & kid, and scarred him for life. He finds the guy way up north, in pre-Statehood Alaska, but . . . it’s the wrong guy! Can ya beat that? Worse, the guy ends up dead anyway; Worser, it looks like Stevens is the guy who done it; Worsest, the punk who really did plant the bomb is coming to Alaska, hoping to finish what he started. Hey!, that doesn’t sound bad at all, though you’d never know it from Stevens’ flat direction & monotone acting. The fights are particularly bizarre, with flurries of missed punches taking out an assortment of toughs, coppers and the occasional dame. The sole bright spot is Skip Homeier, a platinum blond baddie with a touch of masochistic swagger. (The pic may be a bust, but who could resist these Euro-Posters?)


WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Even in his breakthrough film THE DARK CORNER/’46, a tasty noir from Henry Hathaway, Stevens is aced by co-stars Lucille Ball, Clifton Webb & William Bendix.

DOUBLE-BILL: As a teen, ‘Skip’ Homeier recreated his startling stage perf as a Nazi Youth transplanted to the American heartland in TOMORROW, THE WORLD!/’44. Stagy as hell, but fascinating.

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