Saturday, March 02, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Guns, Girls and Gangsters (1959) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS (1959) is one of the titles in the three-film Mamie Van Doren Film Noir Collection available from Kino Lorber.

The set is available on both Blu-ray and DVD; the other titles are THE GIRL IN BLACK STOCKINGS (1957), which I reviewed in January, and VICE RAID (1959), which I'll review at a future date.

I really enjoyed THE GIRL IN BLACK STOCKINGS, with the location filming at Parry Lodge in Utah making the film especially fun for me. I liked GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS even more, from the moment the title began flashing on the screen, one giant word at a time. It's definitely my kind of movie, with stentorian narration, interesting location filming, a fun cast, and a fast-paced 70-minute running time. It may not be a completely good movie, but it's highly entertaining.

Van Doren plays the memorably named Vi Victor, a nightclub singer whose homicidal hubby Mike (Lee Van Cleef) is behind bars in San Quentin. Mike's cellmate Chuck (Gerald Mohr) has just been released and looks up Vi where she's working in Vegas; he knows Vi has a relationship with gangster Joe Darren (Grant Richards) and wants Vi to help him connect with Darren. It seems Mike has a plan to pull off the heist of an armored truck loaded with $2 million in casino money, and Darren's the man to help him do it.

An elaborate plan is set in motion, which will include shooting out the truck's tire near a garage and carefully tracking all the comings and goings at the garage for weeks in advance, as that's where the crooks will take over the vehicle. They also have an ingenious plan involving having made radio recordings of the guards giving codes at various points along the route so that the company won't be tipped off to the truck being stolen; they'll have a reel-to-reel tape recorder in the truck playing the recordings at the appropriate points in the drive.

And then Mike breaks out of prison and goes looking for Vi...oh, and about those codes... Well, let's just say nothing goes the way it's supposed to!

This is simply a very fun movie if you like this type of film, and I definitely do. It gets a little too gritty near the end due to Mike wanting to execute pretty much anyone he comes across, but other than that I found it quite a pleasing hour and 10 minutes.

Van Doren does quite well as the woman who's a pawn between three different men; the role includes somewhat tacky yet amusing dancing and singing to a pair of songs by Buddy Bregman and Stanley Styne.

I enjoyed seeing Gerald Mohr in a rare lead role; he was the veteran of countless radio and TV episodes, including numerous appearances on TV's MAVERICK. Veteran actor Paul Fix is one of Mohr's accomplices, and look for John Mitchum, younger brother of Robert, as one of the armored car guards. Mitchum had a long career of over 167 credits, typically in bit roles or character parts.

The couple who own the garage are played by Elaine Edwards and John Baer; in reading about Baer, who had starred in the TV series TERRY AND THE PIRATES (1952), I learned that his wife was the daughter of Andy Juaregui. Juaregui was a rodeo star who owned a Newhall ranch where many movies were filmed; the Juaregui Ranch was eventually sold to Disney, owners of the neighboring Golden Oak movie location ranch. It's always interesting seeing the ways bits of film history intersect.

GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS was directed by Edward L. Cahn. It was shot in widescreen black and white by Kenneth Peach. I tried to track down the location of the movie's "Stagecoach Inn" but haven't been able to find it yet; if anyone has details on the film's locations I'd love to know about it.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray print is a terrific crisp picture. The trailer is included.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, I think you hit it just right in describing GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS as a highly entertaining movie. It is that, and if you like a fast paced, action packed caper/heist movie, this is one that is, hands down, "Fun." On top of everything else you get to see Mamie Van Doren driving a 1958 chrome loaded Edsel Citation Convertible pulling a horse trailer.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Oh I love this movie. It's great fun. Mamie is fantastic. You'll have to watch Vice Raid, probably the movie where Mamie shows that she could have been more than just sexy.

Also if you find it, Untamed Youth is another entertaining movie.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Walter and Margot, thanks so much for adding your thoughts on this fun movie. Great description, Walter! Margot, I'll definitely be watching VICE RAID soon. I checked and I have a VHS recording of UNTAMED YOUTH, will have to dig it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

Best wishes,

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Arnie said...

The Stage Coach Inn in this movie was located 2 miles south of Newhall on 22968 Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita, California.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much for the Stage Coach Inn info, Arnie! So glad to have that mystery solved.

Best wishes,

1:18 PM  

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