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Thursday, August 3, 2017

THE MIAMI STORY (1954)

Credit low-ball producer Sam Katzman for lining up an actual U.S. Senator to do the intro on this Miami Mob programmer. And give him a bit more for the snappy opening reel as a couple of Cuban enforcers get off’d as they exit a plane in Miami. News that comes as balm to local gang boss Luther Adler sitting poolside at his club, ogling fresh dames and planning his next move. Snappy stuff from prolific megger Fred F. Sears (nearly 80 credits before croaking at 44). The guy knew how to line up a shot to look like a movie, not tv. (Awfully fond of low angles.) But sooner than you wish, the good guys make the scene and the film pretty much folds its tent. There's a sort of secret citizens’ committee who dig up ex-mob guy Barry Sullivan, living with his son under a new identity, and hire the former wiseguy to front a phony Cuban outfit to take down Adler & Co.    Sears drives a pacey storyline, but nothing in here makes much sense. Sullivan hangs with the mob, spies with tv cameras and throws a mighty punch as needed. (Camera setups showing the punches all missing by a mile.) And while he fails to flip Adler’s shady dame (Adele Jergens), he does manage to get in bed (in every way) with her sister Beverly Garland. And, when a climax is needed, the kid (remember him?) gets kidnapped. With halfway decent plotting, Sears could have done something here. As it is, not so much.

DOUBLE-BILL: Adler was still playing this mob guy, senior division, in ABSENCE OF MALICE/’81.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Columbia’s DVD is anamorphic and plays 1.85:1 though the film was shot Academy Ratio (1.37:1). A very tight trim, especially on top, but no deal-breaker.

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