Sunday, July 17, 2016

Tonight's Movie: No Questions Asked (1951) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

A good MGM cast makes NO QUESTIONS ASKED (1951) a fun watch. It's just been released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

NO QUESTIONS ASKED has a screenplay by Sidney Sheldon, based on a story by Berne Giler. It's the tale of Steve Keiver (Barry Sullivan), an attorney who toils at an insurance company. It's going to be a slow climb up the ladder of success, which Steve resents even more when gorgeous Ellen (Arlene Dahl) breaks off their romance to marry a wealthy man (Dick Simmons) she met at Sun Valley.

Steve creates a new, lucrative job for himself recovering stolen goods for the insurance company; the company pays off the mob types in return for getting back merchandise, and Steve gets a finder's fee of sorts. Steve's successful business seems increasingly unsavory, as he's more part of the robbery racket than on the side of the good guys.

Police Inspector Duggan (George Murphy) and Detective O'Bannion (Richard Anderson) begin to monitor Steve's moves as they try to break the criminal rackets, which also impacts his income.

Meanwhile lovely secretary Joan (Jean Hagen) pines after Steve, but knows he's still hung up on Ellen -- who returns to town and promises Steve she'll divorce her husband.

NO QUESTIONS ASKED isn't a top-drawer drama, but it's absorbing, and MGM fans in particular will enjoy taking a look at it. The movie rather reminded me of MGM's THE ARNELO AFFAIR (1947), a Murphy film of a few years earlier, in terms of being an interesting middle-of-the-road crime drama.

Sullivan is usually a compelling actor, and he manages to make Steve simultaneously sympathetic and sleazy. Dahl is really good as the femme fatale; at first she just seems hungry for the finer things in life, but the lengths to which she ultimately goes in the pursuit of money leads to a fairly shocking sequence.

Hagen shines as the knowing but loyal girlfriend Steve wants to "take care of" but doesn't fully appreciate until it may be too late.

Westerns fans will enjoy seeing perennial baddie Robert J. Wilke in a scene as a police sergeant working alongside Murphy. Character actor Tol Avery is another of the cops.

"Dress extra" Bess Flowers has a significantly larger role than usual, with several scenes as a society matron who's robbed in a theater lounge, one of the movie's more memorable sequences. She even has dialogue!

The cast includes Moroni Olsen, Howard Petrie, and William Reynolds. The movie was directed by Harold F. Kress. It runs 80 minutes.

The Warner Archive print looks good, showing off MGM's usual black and white gloss, photographed by Harold Lipstein. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger john k said...

There are many "second string Noirs" that I have never heard of but this film
surprised me as it stars one of my fave actors Barry Sullivan.
Thanks to many very fine blogs including this one, some of these unheralded films are
gaining more attention and also DVD releases.
I might have enjoyed this film slightly more than you Laura although I must admit your
review is very fair,to say the least.
I found the film slick,fast moving,highly improbable and great fun.
Some great character actors appear in bit parts and I loved the jewel heist carried
out by female impersonators.
Harold Kress made few features including the average programmer Western APACHE WAR SMOKE.
His work as an editor however is stellar with many high profile films to his credit.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, John! I love helping to play a role in calling attention to lesser-known films.

There are some more Barry Sullivan films I need to see, including SUSPENSE and THE GANGSTER.

I recorded APACHE WAR SMOKE but haven't watched it yet -- my impression when I recorded it was it was pretty cheap-looking but I was intrigued as it stars Gilbert Roland and Barbara Ruick.

Thanks for your feedback on the movie!

Best wishes,

9:24 PM  

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