Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Track the Man Down (1955)

TRACK THE MAN DOWN (1955) is a Republic Pictures film noir made in England, starring American actor Kent Taylor and British actress Petula Clark.

The movie seems to slightly foreshadow Stanley Kubrick's THE KILLING (1956), following the misadventures of a group of thieves following a robbery at a dog track.

The robbers' car crashes during a police chase and the men split up, then try to hunt down Rick (George Rose), who made off with the suitcase of money.

American reporter John Ford (Taylor) is drawn into the situation after he "meets cute" with pretty June Dennis (Clark) in a phone booth. June's sister Mary (Ursula Howells) is Rick's girlfriend, and after Rick stashes the suitcase with Mary, innocent June ends up literally holding the bag when she's asked to deliver it to Rick.

June and John, who eventually figure out what's inside the bag June is carrying, end up on a bus with Rick and another of the robbers, plus an assortment of characters including an actress (Renee Houston) and a mother (Mary Mackenzie) with her little boy (John Pike) and infant daughter.

TRACK THE MAN DOWN is a moderately entertaining crime film. It starts out too slowly as the script meanders about, following different characters. In the second half of the film, when Clark and Taylor move front and center, with the story focusing on their bus trip, it becomes more enjoyable.

I always enjoy Kent Taylor, best known as the star of "B" films such as the classic FIVE CAME BACK (1939) and more minor fare such as WESTERN PACIFIC AGENT (1950). His wisecracking reporter helps enliven the proceedings, and though he was significantly older than costar Clark, they have a nice rapport and are pleasant to watch together.

Houston does a nice turn as a temperamental actress, rising to the moment when she tells off Rick for refusing to get the sick baby medical care. It's a good role, and she makes the most of it.

TRACK THE MAN DOWN isn't as interesting as some of the other British-American noir of the era I've watched, but fans of the subgenre will probably enjoy checking it out, as I did.

TRACK THE MAN DOWN was directed by R.G. Springsteen and filmed in black and white by Basil Emmott. It runs 75 minutes.

TRACK THE MAN DOWN is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films. It can be rented from ClassicFlix in either format.

TRACK THE MAN DOWN is also available to stream for free on YouTube at the Paramount Vault site.


Blogger Jerry E said...

First review I've read of this film that is on my 'wanted' list. The film sounds OK and I will probably enjoy trying to identify location shooting.
Quite an interesting cast too. Ursula Howells is a favourite (though not so much for film roles) and Petula Clark has been around my entire life (!). She was hugely popular here from the late 40s as a child singer, went on to work as an actress, with her later work as a hit-making pop singer ('Downtown' etc) making her a household 'name'. Pet is still alive and seems as lovely a lady as ever.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, I love that you and John can enjoy picking out the London locations, just as I do with the L.A. locations. :)

I've seen Petula Clark in FINIAN'S RAINBOW and enjoyed the soundtrack for years, and I know her as a child in I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! Otherwise I haven't had much exposure to her. I recorded some "Huggetts" films a while back but haven't dipped into them yet.

As always, I'd love to know what you think when you catch up with this one -- do let me know!

Best wishes,

3:32 PM  

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