wrote, "an obscure noir winner."
John Riggs (DeFore) is a Treasury agent tracing bills made from plates created by a sickly imprisoned felon (Morris Ankrum). The search leads to L.A., where Riggs poses as the sleazy Nick Starnes. As Starnes, he meets other members of the counterfeit ring, including Reggie, played by an unusually intimidating George Tobias; Reggie makes sure that someone he doesn't trust meets his end in a rather startling and brutal way.
Riggs/Starnes also gets to know hotel manager Nora Craig (Andrea King). They may possibly share an attraction, but each is wary of the other, with good reason. Watching Nick and Nora trying to figure out each other's angle is one of the film's many pleasures.
SOUTHSIDE 1-1000 has great atmosphere and manages to be quite stylish despite the confines of the "B" movie budget. The eye-catching L.A. location shooting sent me to Google for more info on spots like Owl Drugs and Coffee Dan's.
Although only stock footage is used of Union Station, there's a marvelous chase sequence using the Angels Flight Railway, also seen in the previous year's CRISS CROSS (1949). Another suspenseful scene, one of the best in the film, was shot in L.A.'s Wrigley Field. It's amazing how a place which would normally be so welcoming ends up being quite spooky in this film.
Although I grew up thinking of DeFore as a "TV dad" from countless reruns of OZZIE AND HARRIET and HAZEL, I started looking at him differently thanks to his part as a charming gunslinger in RAMROD (1947). He's excellent as the resourceful G-man. I really enjoy seeing him in a part like this which is so different from his well-known TV roles.
Andrea King might not have been a household name, but she was a striking actress who brought a little something different to many films of the '40s and '50s. She played supporting roles in a number of films previously reviewed here including, to name just a few, THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU (1944), THE MAN I LOVE (1947), MY WILD IRISH ROSE (1947), and RIDE THE PINK HORSE (1947). Visit the official Andrea King website for more information and lovely photos.
Gerald Mohr is an actor I first came to know through reruns of my favorite series, MAVERICK, as he appeared in seven different episodes, including a couple as Doc Holliday. Mohr serves as the film's narrator. Perhaps perennial noir narrator Reed Hadley wasn't available!
There are lots of other familiar faces in the cast, including Ray Teal as a bunco squad detective, Barry Kelley (BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE) as a crook, and Don Beddoe (COW COUNTRY) as his lawyer. Argentina Brunetti, Sid Saylor, Pierre Watkin, and Robert Osterloh are also in the large cast.
The movie was directed by Boris Ingster and filmed in glorious black and white by Russell Harlan. Harlan had also shot DeFore's RAMROD, and his credits included classics such as RED RIVER (1948) and RIO BRAVO (1959).
The movie was produced by the King Brothers, the team which was also behind noir gems such as WHEN STRANGERS MARRY (1944) and GUN CRAZY (1950).
SOUTHSIDE 1-1000 is available on a newly remastered DVD-R from the Warner Archive.
For another look at SOUTHSIDE 1-1000, please visit Mark's 2009 review at Where Danger Lives, where he wrote that the film was "compelling, entertaining, and in its own way pretty important."