Time to return to UCLA tonight for another great double bill in the ongoing Anthony Mann Festival! I was glad to have the chance to enjoy these films with my friend Blake Lucas.
Tonight paired two of director Mann's 1947 film noir titles, DESPERATE and RAILROADED! I had previously seen DESPERATE on DVD back in 2011 and enjoyed it even more this time. Since that viewing I've seen lead actor Steve Brodie in a number of other films, mostly Westerns, and liked Audrey Long in BORN TO KILL, another film from 1947. It was fun to circle back to DESPERATE and watch it again in the context of greater appreciation for each of their careers.
The 35mm prints UCLA had planned to show for both of tonight's films proved to be unavailable, so DESPERATE was shown in 16mm. After a rough-looking first couple of minutes, this print proved to be quite good and provided a very enjoyable viewing experience. I was glad I'd decided to revisit this fast-moving film, which has an excellent supporting turn by Jason Robards Sr. as a police detective.
Unfortunately RAILROADED! was shown in a digital print which must frankly be described as ghastly, far below UCLA's usual standards; there were annoying digital lines across the poor picture, which periodically went black. A number of people walked out. I'll happily watch a hard-to-find film in any condition, but I must confess I was surprised UCLA showed that print instead of changing the program.
Since I'd made the effort to get there I stuck with it, and the film was intriguing enough to hold the interest despite a less-than-optimal viewing situation. The film was quite entertaining, a fast-moving 72 minutes, and I enjoyed it very much.
Duke (John Ireland) and Clara (Jane Randolph of CAT PEOPLE) collaborate on the robbery of the bookie operation which runs in the back room of Clara's beauty salon.
When things go awry and a cop is killed, Clara and Duke frame the innocent Steve Ryan (Ed Kelly). Steve is arrested by Sgt. Mickey Ferguson (Hugh Beaumont), and Steve's spunky sister Rosie (Sheila Ryan) immediately goes to work to clear her brother's name.
The bright script by John C. Higgins has some wonderful dialogue, including a nice sparring relationship between the police sergeant and the accused man's sister; sparks fly as they battle and then eventually collaborate on the case.
There are some beautifully shot moments, discernible even with a poor print, and the fun scenes include a knock-down, drag-out brawl between Clara and Rosie. Jane Randolph does a very good job as the alcoholic tough cookie who gradually falls apart, realizing that the guy she's hooked on really doesn't care about her, and John Ireland makes an interesting villain (perfumed bullets?!). I think I actually jumped the second time he smacked Jane Randolph, he was one hate-filled guy.
The movie was filmed in black and white by Guy Roe.
I'm fortunate to have this film in my DVD collection thanks to the kindness of my friend Kristina, and I plan to revisit the movie very soon with a better picture.
The DVD can be rented from Netflix or ClassicFlix.
In addition to the DVD, RAILROADED! has been released on VHS.
Earlier films seen in this series: DR. BROADWAY (1942), which was paired with the previously reviewed TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE (1945); THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955), shown with the previously reviewed STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1944); THE NAKED SPUR (1953), shown with the previously reviewed HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948); and THE LAST FRONTIER (1955), seen with the previously reviewed STRANGE IMPERSONATION (1947).