Funny how you watch one superb film and before you know it there’s two more excellent films you see connected to it and off back you go into movieland. This time it happened straight off the bat of watching the first-rate 1955 Samuel Fuller directed, Japan meets US gangster flick starring Robert Ryan called House Of Bamboo. On further investigation it revealed that the film was actually a loose remake of a 1948 Richard Widmark movie called The Street With No Name featuring the same theme of infiltrating a gangster outfit. Now I was hit by a dilemma? I can’t do every film I see, so which film gets a post?
Both films are high quality, very entertaining and Bamboo had Robert Ryan!, so it was very tough to choose but the first film won by a narrow margin. Main reason being the fun fast paced interesting way it delivered it’s story. In a semi-documentary style with full on FBI skills being shown throughout. Haha this was like a big budget commercial for J Edgar Hoover’s FBI gang to show the public and the criminal world what they were doing and how they are gonna get you if you are naughty.
Tagline – A New Era Of Violence In The Making… A New Kind Of Gangster On The Loose!
Opening with a typing letter signed by J Edgar himself, we are informed that “gangsterism” is on the rise and rife throughout the city. New gangs are forming from the once rough and tumble juvenile delinquents into full fledged killers on the take. In almost television news reporter fashion we get to see a bunch of horrific gangland jobs taking place resulting in unnecessary deaths.
Lucky the FBI has a school for it’s champion squad, a training academy at Quantico, Virginia. This is where we get to meet our hero, the honest, smiling, loveable agent Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens). We get to see him go through self defence training before he takes on some tactical shooting where our Gene gets to show off his “shoot or don’t shoot” skills.
Gene is called upon to infiltrate a known gang situated in a boxing club lead by chief bad guy Alec Stiles (Richard Widmark) and his right hand knife man Shivvy (Donald Buka). Gene needs to get close to the gang and show some of his useful skills to entice them to bring him into their gang. Going under the name George Manly he picks a fight in the ring against one of Stiles prizefighters to grab his attention.
On Gene’s team is Inspector George A. Briggs (Lloyd Nolan) running things from HQ and loyal Cy Gordon (John McIntire) who’s close by keeping an eye on his back whilst relaying messages. But with all perfect plans something is bound to go wrong.
Can these brave men bring evidence to place Alec Stiles as the murdering gangster he is or are they all going to get brought down one by one in this tense and tight noir drama? It’s a very exciting film, which all the characters shine in. Well worth tracking down if you fancy it.
A few wolfie observations.
- As I said at the top of the page, one film leads to another. Well straight after watching this I read that there is in fact a film before this one called The House on 92nd Street (1945) and features Lloyd Nolan back in his Inspector Briggs role. This time we get a double agent for the FBI taking on a Nazi spy ring! That has to be ace, I can’t wait to see it.
- The FBI footage of all their technology is first-rate and much fun to see. You get the lastest ballistic and chemical analytical machines whirling and buzzing about showing off their skills. Rooms full of experts fiddling with buttons and dials alongside radio operators demonstrating the communication skills.
- Richard Widmark lights up the screen as soon as his character Stiles appears. He had that perfect shifty looking slimy sly bad guy look to him. Wearing his anger right on the cuff, ready to explode.
- Best of all is the boxing fight with the always smiling Gene as he throws punches at his opponent and even keeps his big grin as he takes a few fists straight in the kisser.
- Both films are on Youtube at the time of writing if you did fancy watching or re-visiting. House on 92nd Street & Street with No Name
Keep discovering new films and having fun, thanks for popping on by. Cheerio