Director Don Siegel is a legend who dropped incredible movies on us from all angles. With so many starring that man Clint Eastwood it’s no wonder they feature high on my teenage watch list. From Coogan’s Bluff to the iconic Dirty Harry. Then there’s The Beguiled to the delightful Two Mules for Sister Sara and the awesome Charlie Varrick (what no Clint?) to name a few.
But apart from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers in 1956 I haven’t seen any of Don Siegel’s 40’s or 50’s output. Please fire in the recommendations to put me on the right path because if The Lineup from 1958 is anything to go by for more quality from this amazing talent then I need to see them.
A shadow kingpin gangster uses innocent overseas travelers to unknowingly transport heroin into country. Hiring two psychopathic killers to pick up the merchandise and drop the drugs at a busy public arena.
Right from the get-go the carnage begins to cover the streets as two seasoned cops take up the case to find out what the hell is going on and finding themselves always one step behind the bad guys.
The film is a real rollercoaster ride throughout the streets of San Francisco and features excellent action scenes which include an edge of your seat car chase which is handled with much pace and gusto.
Adding to the suspense is some truly wonderful banter between our two very different heroes and baddies. With top marks going to Dancer played by (Eli Wallach) who was like the father to Joe Pesci‘s Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas, intelligent, unhinged and ready to blow at any given moment.
He’s not alone in the psycho stakes, as Dancer is being coached by an elderly hitman guru called Julian (Robert Keith) a man who loves nothing more than to keep a note in his diary of the last dying words of his victims. They make a twisted dark dastardly duo.
The two cops on the hunt are Lieutenant Ben Guthrie (Warner Anderson) and Inspector Al Quine (Emile Meyer). Seasoned professionals with a lot of respect for each other and drop some wonderful dialogue.
Lt. Ben Guthrie – “Jenkins certainly had a great spot here for a Halloween party.”
Insp. Al Quine – “Yeah, no self-respectin’ witch would bring a broom into this trap.”
Throw in a cocky wheels man Sandy McLain (Richard Jaeckel), a few crazy car chases, tense drama and with a frenzied end finale you get yourself a top movie which hits all the right notes.
So if like me and you hadn’t seen this spectacular piece of action film noir then jump the line-up and get to the front of the queue (Sorry that’s well cheesy). If you can recommend some Don Siegel films from the 40’s 50’s that would be most appreciated. Cheers, Mikey Wolfman.