Thursday, April 06, 2017

Tonight's Movie: I Was a Shoplifter (1950) at the Noir City Film Festival

This year was the first time I saw every film at a Noir City Film Festival -- 20 in all!

I loved the entire festival lineup but I think possibly the film I enjoyed the most was the fast-paced "B" movie I WAS A SHOPLIFTER (1950), which was part of a double bill with CHICAGO DEADLINE (1949).

How could a fan of "B" and Universal films not enjoy a movie with a cast which included favorites like Scott Brady, Mona Freeman, Andrea King, Tony Curtis, Charles McGraw, Charles Drake, and Rock Hudson? There were also noticeable bit roles for the up-and-coming Peggie Castle and Ann Robinson. And yes, there's even an appearance by the ubiquitous Bess Flowers.

The movie begins with poor little rich girl Faye Burton (Freeman) picked up for shoplifting in a department store. After signing a confession she gets off with a warning, but she soon finds herself blackmailed by one Ina Perdue (King), head of a shoplifting ring. Faye must keep shoplifting for the gang, or else!

Detective Jeff Andrews (Brady), who's been working undercover posing as a shoplifter, comes to Faye's rescue while working to crack the gang of thieves. He also falls in love with Faye, but before they can have a happily ever after, Jeff and Faye must battle for their lives south of the border in Tijuana.

This is a quick little 74-minute film which is a lot of fun. Handsome Brady (HE WALKED BY NIGHT) is a solid hero, with Freeman convincing as a somewhat disturbed young woman from a rich but unhappy family. (Jeff's blithe assurance that Faye can be quickly cured of her kleptomania is rather unintentionally amusing.) King is delightful as the criminal mastermind, especially when she realizes the game's up and urges her crazy enforcer (Curtis) not to kill anyone so that they won't be facing a murder charge.

Drake and Hudson are department store security men ("loss prevention," as we'd say these days), and McGraw is a detective. Castle and Robinson, along with Flowers, can be spotted as department store employees early in the film.

I suspect those who aren't "B" movie fans would be less taken with the film than I was, but for me it was quite a fun time at the movies. It was great to have a chance to see it, as it's not available on DVD.

I WAS A SHOPLIFTER was directed by Charles Lamont and filmed in black and white by Irving Glassberg.

Coming next: A review of WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1950), starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Fantastic line-up of films for this festival, Laura, and several of them rare - like this one. I have a copy of the film but the print is terrible. Even with that I managed to enjoy it. It would be great if a restored print were to turn up but I don't know how likely that is.

Really looking forward to all your reviews from this year's festival to keep happy all those, like me, who couldn't attend.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

What a cast. This sounds GREAT!

11:38 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It really was a fantastic lineup, Jerry! I am hoping to get a few more posts up in the coming weeks -- little-known films like this one and THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF were such a joy. I'm glad you could see I WAS A SHOPLIFTER even though the print wasn't very good!

Another little-known film I loved at a past festival, ABANDONED, has come out on DVD -- perhaps we'll get lucky with some of this year's titles eventually being released as well.

Vienna, if you love the cast you'll get a kick out of the movie! It was so much fun.

Best wishes,

9:51 AM  

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