As writer, director, producer & star of a few low-budget crime-driven mellers, Czech exile Hugo Haas became something of a one-man hack . . . in a good way. Here, buxom blonde Cleo Moore lifts 25 thou off her creepy restaurant boss, payback for a wronged father. After a quick, happy stint in jail, she’s back on the streets, working a new waitressing gig while she lets the stolen 25 K sit tight. But when her new, friendly boss needs some fast cash; and a new romantic squeeze needs a loan, Moore knows just who to turn to . . . herself. Alas, her well-made plans go wrong with O’Henry-like twists of ironic fate, why if this girl didn’t have bad luck . . . Ahem. It’s that kind of story; that kind of film. Fortunately, a final O’Henry twist restores a sense of order so life can go on. Haas has all the makings of a nice little film noir here, and he runs an efficient show, but the film just bumps along, with ham-fisted acting and not much style. Worse, the compressed grey-scale on Paul Ivano’s lensing makes the already modest production values look like tv anthology fare of the day. What’s left is the odd blank sensibility Cleo Moore brings to her dishy role, and her manner of looking like Kim Basinger’s hitherto unknown sister from certain flattering camera angles.
DOUBLE-BILL: Apparently, THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE/’51 (not seen here) is Haas’s best pic. Have a look and report back.