Kansas City Confidential (1952) Exploding! Like A Gun In Your Face!

Kansas City Confidential (1952) movie poster film cover

I discovered this tense, well crafted thriller after being impressed by the performance of Neville Brand in director Don Siegel’s brilliant titled and extremely taut prison drama Riot In Cell Block 11. He played the lead character, James Dunn who rebels against the prison system, demanding better living conditions for the inmates. Flicking through his filmography I noted the intriguing Kansas City Confidential directed by Phil Karlson. Neville might not be the lead in this film but he does get to play one of three great quirky bad guys.

Tagline – The Picture That Hits With BULLET FORCE And BLACKJACK FURY!

With a perfect plan in mind, Mr Big (Preston Foster) has all the details of his clever plan finely tuned. A masterful heist, to relieve the bank vaults of the sum upwards of a million dollars and the beauty being, he won’t even need to set foot in the bank itself. Because the bank would bring the money to him, each and every day the guards routinely arrive with the bags of cash at exactly the same time, each and every time, right on the dot.

Now he just needs a gang of hoodlums to help him, it just so happens he knows exactly just the trio of degenerates he wants!…. Lets meet them.

First up you got the weasley chain-smoking, wonky eyed, gambling crook Pete Harris (Jack Elam)

Kansas City Confidential (1952) Jack Elam robber hood gangster gambler Pete Harris

Then in comes the sly, suave and cunning Tony Romano (Lee Van Cleef) who also has an eye for the ladies.

Kansas City Confidential (1952) Lee Van Cleef Tony Romano robber hood gangster ladies man

That leaves Boyd Kane (Neville Brand) a bubblegum chewing, brutish thug whos very likely to smash your face in!

Kansas City Confidential (1952) Neville Brand as Boyd Kane robber hood gangster thug

Now Mr Big isn’t stupid, part of his plan is to keep the identities of each man away from each other. In other words, Mr Big is the only one who knows them. So the masks say on throughout the robbery, no questions asked.

Mr Big – ” “You can’t even rat on each other because you’ve never seen each other without those masks. I’ve made you cop proof and stool pigeon proof and it’s going to stay that way. Keep those masks. You’ll be wearing them at the payoff.”

Kansas City Confidential (1952) Mr Big (Preston Foster) mastermind bank job the bossKansas City Confidential (1952) Mr Big (Preston Foster) mastermind bank job masks robbery bad guys

Unfortunately sat in the middle of this perfect plan is reformed character Joe Rolf (John Payne) who happens to also be a perfect time keeper in his floral delivery job, right outside the bank. Unbeknownst to him, he is to be set up as the “patsy”, for his floral van will be used in the robbery.

Kansas City Confidential (1952) John Payne Joe Rolfe pulled over bike cops framed bank jobKansas City Confidential (1952) John Payne Joe Rolfe double crossed set up hero revenge cops framed

Tagline – Every city wears a mask! This is the picture that goes behind that mask to bare the bullet-scarred face of a brutal underworld!…..

Our Joe Rolfe isn’t just an ex-con, he’s also a purple heart awarded war hero and there’s no way he’s getting set up or played for a sucker. After being released from the police interrogation, he pledges to himself that they will pay for what they’ve done and embarks on a mission to bring them to justice by any means necessary.

Kansas City Confidential (1952) John Payne Joe Rolfe double crossed set up hero revengeKansas City Confidential (1952) Lee Van Cleef Tony Romano Boyd Kane Neville Brand thugs

Tagline – Exploding! Like a gun in your face!

Leading him through the Mexican border, Joe begins to track them down. How will he infiltrate this gang of hoodlums, will the facade of being anonymous help get him close to the group of dangerous thugs, who won’t hesitate to take down anyone who stands in the way of their fortune.

Throw in a potential love interest in the form of law degree studying Helen Foster (Coleen Gray) and sexy souvenir selling senorita Teresa (Dona Drake) and you got yourself a real first class treat. 

Can he hold his own against these three hardened criminals and who is Mr Big? Will Joe make it to the end of this entertaining noir drama? It really is worth hunting down for a look. Though I bet you’ve already seen it as I feel like I’m late to the party on this one. What did you think?

We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking!” Take it easy, Wolfie.

PS The film slipped into public domain and is available to stream on YouTube Kansas City Confidential in superb quality.

Kansas City Confidential (1952) El Cuarto Hombre brilliant Spainish movie poster

I love this Spanish movie poster “El Cuarto Hombre”

10 thoughts on “Kansas City Confidential (1952) Exploding! Like A Gun In Your Face!

    • Hello Todd. It’s a cracking film isn’t it. So many great characters to add to the story. So enjoyable. It the first John Payne film I had seen and have been making my way through some of his other great movies this week. “Mikes Take On Movies” recommended “99 River Street” the other week and that one blew me away too. I hope to do a “my take” on that one sometime soon. Like you say they are superb films to sit back and enjoy the ride with. Thank you for popping on by 🙂


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