Sunday, April 07, 2024

Tonight's Movie: Fingerman (1955) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The latest Dark Side of Cinema set from Kino Lorber has just been released!

The Dark Side of Cinema XVIII collection is now out, containing a trio of films from the same release year: FINGERMAN (1955), CRASHOUT (1955), and CITY OF SHADOWS (1955).

All three films in the set are new to me, and I started with FINGERMAN which turned out to be just the kind of lesser-known crime film I love to discover. It was also fun to find a new "Christmas" film, as the story opens on Christmas Eve.

In a story inspired by true events, Frank Lovejoy plays ex-con Casey Martin, who's picked up by the feds after he takes part in a truck hijacking.

To Casey's surprise they don't immediately arrest him, offering him a chance to start over if he helps bring down mobster Dutch Becker (Forrest Tucker). Casey is partially motivated by his sister (Evelyn Eaton) having fallen into addiction after working for Becker, risking orphaning her little girl (Bernadette Withers).

Casey works his way into Dutch's gang, but it proves to be very dangerous both for Casey and for his girlfriend Gladys (Peggie Castle), who used to work for Dutch.

This 82-minute film was written by actor-screenwriter Warren Douglas, based on a story by Norris Lipsius (whose experiences inspired the story) and John Lardner. Douglas also served as the film's dialogue director.

The movie was directed by Harold D. Schuster and filmed in black and white by William Sickner. It's all pretty straightforward and won't win any "greatest movie" awards, yet at the same time it's exactly the kind of crime movie I like, including interesting Los Angeles locations such as Griffith Park. Those who share my liking of the cast and authentic settings will probably enjoy it as well.

Lovejoy and Castle are favorites and both seen to very good effect here. Tucker easily moved between hero and villain in his film career, and he's extremely creepy here as a violent mobster. A scene where he orders henchman Lou (the even creepier Timothy Carey) to mess up the face of a hooker (Dorothy Green) so she can't work for a while is chilling.

I enjoyed the undercover aspects of the story and the various ways Casey imparts information to his law enforcement contacts. My only real issue with the film was being unhappy with what happens to one of the characters.

Side note: While posters and IMDb list the title as two words, I always use the title as seen in the actual credits, and it's a solid word there.

As is typical for Kino Lorber, the print and sound quality are solid. Extras consist of a commentary track by Jason A. Ney and a pair of trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber.

Coming in the future: More reviews from this set, along with a handful of lingering reviews from other Dark Side sets, including the XVII collection containing Edward G. Robinson films. I recently really enjoyed VICE SQUAD (1953) from that set. So many movies, so little time!

Kino Lorber's Dark Side collections continue to be some of the most consistently interesting and enjoyable classic film releases.

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


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