Looking leaner & meaner than before his war service, Robert Montgomery directs himself in stylish fashion in this highly stylized, almost poetical, Ben Hecht/Charles Lederer scripted film noir. It’s Fiesta Days in a segregated border-town near Mexico, but that doesn’t concern Montgomery, out for a bit of revenge & blackmail against Fred Clark, a slick operator who’s been milking a government contract for illegal millions. Stumbling into the Mexican side of town, Montgomery finds an unlikely pal in two-bit carousel owner Thomas Gomez (overplaying to a surprise Oscar® nom.) and a sort of street angel to watch over him in Wanda Hendrix’s naïf waïf. Something’s slightly off-kilter about everyone in here, something fascinating, too, including Clark’s two-faced moll (Andrea King) and Art Smith’s sentient Fed Agent. Neatly produced, on a limited budget, with great use of atmospheric soundstage sets by lenser Russell Metty who’d bring similar tone & strength to Orson Welles’ border-town nightmare noir TOUCH OF EVIL/’58. (Our British poster notes that the film is 'Not Suitable For General Exhibition,' but we're tagging it Family Friendly just the same.)
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Why so much food in this film? Every other scene has people sitting down and ordering something to eat. And what giant portions on offer!