Friday, July 22, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Chicago Confidential (1957) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL (1957) is one of three films in Kino Lorber's Dadrk Side of Cinema VII collection.

The set, which also contains John Payne in THE BOSS (1956) and Dana Andrews in THE FEARMAKERS (1948), was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber Studio Classics last month.

Volume VIII has also just been released and will be reviewed here, and Volumes IX, X, and XI are scheduled, which is all fantastic news!

CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL is one of those films I like to say may not be "great cinema" but is great fun. This docu-noir style crime film was totally made for me; I loved the omniscient narrator (Carl Princi), the peek at '50s crime-solving technology, and especially the cast, which is filled with fun faces.

The film also fits into the "big city corruption" subgenre, alongside films such as THE TURNING POINT (1952) and THE CAPTIVE CITY (1952).

Brian Keith stars as State's Attorney Jim Fremont, who puts union boss Artie Blane (Dick Foran) in prison for the murder of his accountant. The accountant was actually working with Blane to uncover local corruption, and crime boss Ken Harrison (Douglas Kennedy) uses an alcoholic deadbeat (Elisha Cook Jr.) to frame Blane for the murder. Harrison and his gang then move into the area and take it over.

Blane's devoted fiancee Laura (Beverly Garland) asserts his innocence to Fremont, who's heard that claim one too many times after sending someone to prison. However, to get Laura off his case he has a key piece of evidence analyzed by an expert, and he's as shocked as anyone when he subsequently realizes Laura may be correct.

Jim's job is not simply to prosecute, but to seek justice, so he begins exploring further and uncovers a web of mob corruption and murders.

This film is a very brisk and entertaining 75 minutes with a compelling story and a wonderful collection of faces. Sure, it's all been "done before," but it's familiar in the best kind of way. This is the kind of movie I really enjoy sitting down to relax with for an hour and a quarter.

I loved Garland in both THE DESPERADO (1954) and THE MIAMI STORY (1954), and she's just right here as the woman fighting for the life of the man she loves. I initially thought it might be possible she wasn't on the level and was in the relationship with the clearly older Artie for his money, but she quickly shows she's the real deal. I especially liked her nerve in the final scenes as she tries to fight off Kennedy's henchmen. It's a nice part for Garland, reminiscent of the brave female characters from PHANTOM LADY (1944) and BLACK ANGEL (1946), albeit with a little less screen time.

Another Beverly, Beverly Tyler, who was familiar from THE BEGINNING OR THE END (1947) and the George Montgomery Western TOUGHEST GUN IN TOMBSTONE (1958), also has a very good role here as a terrified defense witness. Both Tyler and Garland are significant reasons I enjoyed the movie.

Foran's role was relatively small, as he's quickly shuffled off to prison, but it was interesting seeing the former cowboy hero and singer in this part. Foran was an older-looking 47 when this film was released.

Paul Langton plays Keith's righthand man, with Phyllis Coates as Keith's wife. Coates had played Lois Lane in the original season of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (1952-53).

Kennedy is wonderfully creepy as the evil crime boss. Former leading man Jim Bannon (I LOVE A MYSTERY) pops up as a pilot in the action-packed final sequence. Also on hand are Gavin Gordon, Anthony George, John Hamilton, and Thomas Browne Henry.

I suspect even viewers who aren't really into this type of film won't be able to help finding it entertaining, and viewers like me will find it terrific fun. This is one I'll happily watch again in the future.

Sidney Salkow directed, with black and white photography by Kenneth Peach. Bernard Gordon's screenplay was based on a book by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer and a story by Hugh King.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray print is from a new 2K master; it looks and sounds great. The only extras on this disc are three trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber.

The other two films in the set have commentary tracks by two of the best, Alan K. Rode and Jason A. Ney. I'll be reviewing those movies here in the future, along with Volume VIII and hopefully future releases as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL and look forward to the other films in the set starring Payne and Andrews.

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


Anonymous Barry Lane said...

I anticipated Chicago Confidential and Sidney Salkow to be the least winning in the package. Boy, was I wrong? The best, and the most fun. For me, Dana was the attraction and I found The Fearmakers just fine, although obviously underproduced. The Boss was deeply intelligent, angry in the right way, and extremely well played by all concerned. I liked it the least. A final word on Chicago Confidential: Paul Langton and Phyllis Coates were outstanding.Elisha Cook, as usual interesting and worthy of notice despite being over and out in just a few minutes. A good package.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

Barry hits the nail firmly on the head - three very enjoyable thrillers with something to say yet keeping the entertainment factor front and centre.
Beverly Garland always stood out in anything she did and Dick Foran became a very reliable character actor. Good stuff!

11:26 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

You’ve sold me! Must get Chicago Confidential.

12:10 AM  
Blogger john k said...

First things first...
Laura I'm so sorry that I missed your 17th anniversary celebrations-I've been off-line for 10 days and would just like to say how much I love your blog-it's my go to site everytime I'm online. Although I do not comment as much as I used to hopefully that will change soon.

CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL is fine by me too and it was swell to see Dick Foran get the girl for a change especially when the "girl" is Beverly Garland.
Oddly enough Foran was one of the very few Warner Bros Contract Players/Second String Stars and occasionally A Listers not to appear in British B Movies.
Here's a list by no means complete I might add:
Pat O'Brien,George Brent,Paul Heinried,William Lundigan,Dane Clark,Wayne Morris, Zachary Scott, and others I'm sure.

Unlike Barry I thought Foran was the best thing about THE FEARMAKERS he's the heavy in that one. For me THE BOSS was the best in the set-nice role for lovely Doe Avedon;later Mrs Don Siegel. Little known Gloria McGee also scores in a difficult role. Despite a trim budget director Byron Haskin pulls off a couple of stunning set pieces-the Union Station massacre and a shoot out in a cavern like cement factory. BTW Jacques Tourneur considered THE FEARMAKERS the least of his pictures and STARS IN MY CROWN the best.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks to you all very much for your comments!

Barry Lane, I was also thinking CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL would be the least in the set, given the leading men of the other two films, and am glad to know you also found it so much fun. I appreciated your comments on the other two films as well -- looking forward to checking them out. It's interesting that you appreciated much about the other films yet found CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL more fun. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up in the same place once they're all viewed.

Jerry, glad to know you also like all three of these films. I'm a fan of Foran as a "cowboy singer" and am looking forward to seeing him again in THE FEARMAKERS. It's kind of fun that, as John K points out, he gets in the girl in one movie in this set and is a villain in the other!

Vienna, I'd love to know what you think when you check this film out. I always really like these "procedural"-type films and hope you will too.

John, it's fantastic to hear from you! Thank you so much for the congrats, and I hope to hear more from you in the future as your comments are always most welcome.

That's an interesting point about Foran not making the '50s British crime films. I really enjoy those and have collected as many as possible, though I haven't been able to watch them all yet. Loved your thoughts on all the films including Tourneur's opinions of his work. I'm gradually crossing more and more Tourneur titles off my viewing list. He's a director I've come to appreciate very much, and I'm glad that more people are recognizing his fine work these days.

Thank you all again for your comments!

Best wishes,

10:38 AM  
Blogger john k said...

I should have mentioned regarding Warner Bros stars in British B Movies George Raft who
when he made ESCAPE ROUTE (aka I'll Get You) was far away from his Warners A lister days.
It's not a bad little movie however which makes great use of London's Docklands locations.
I feel Foran would have fitted in well in a Brit 50's B Movie; I wonder if he was ever

9:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, John! I'LL GET YOU/ESCAPE ROUTE is part of one of my VCI sets though I've not yet watched that one.

I agree, I can easily see the Foran of CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL in one of those British '50s films. They had such interesting casts!

Best wishes,

10:35 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Enjoyed Chicago Confidential. Good plot and cast especially Beverley Garland.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm so glad you got to see it already, Vienna! Delighted you enjoyed it also. Thanks so much for taking the time to add your feedback here!

Best wishes,

8:49 PM  

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