This one is a rather unseen film-noir gem put out by Universal–International Studios in 1948. The cast is made up of Dan Duryea, John Payne, Shelly Winters, Joan Caulfield, Dan O'Herlihy, Richard Rober, Dorothy Hart and Percy Helton.
Dan Duryea, John Payne Richard Rober and Dan O'Herlihy are con men who have just pulled a 250,000 dollar score in Miami Florida. In the mix here is young and hot looking, Shelly Winters. She is the main squeeze of gang leader, Dan Duryea, or so he thinks. Miss Winters however has the hots for John Payne. Payne refers to Winters as, "a boa constrictor in high heels" and tries to steer clear of her.
Now the gang is moving cross country to pull another job in California. They are going to hit a small burg called Mission City. There is a nice sized population of well heeled types residing there.
Payne, the pretty boy front for the gang, hits town first to do the scouting. The mark is a wealthy war widow, Joan Caulfield. Payne is posing as a soldier from the same unit as Caulfield's dead husband. Payne is to say all the proper things and hook the widow into building a war memorial. Of course the whole thing will be a con job. Duryea and the others will stay out of the way till needed. Duryea will play the memorial builder etc.
Gumming up the works here is Miss Winters. She was sent on a trip to Cuba by Duryea. She however decided she prefers the company of Payne more and followed the group to California. Duryea, needless to say is not the type to take losing a dame lightly. He already suspected that the two, Winters and Payne were up to a bit of horizontal Cha-Cha.
Payne sets the hook and soon has the game, Caulfield, firmly on the line. Things are going rather well except for Winters showing at all the wrong times. Payne knows full well that Winters' infatuation with him, could get both of the them deep-sixed by Duryea. Muddying the waters here is also the fact that Payne has taken a shine to Miss Caulfield. He is not sure whether he wants to continue with the con.
The chance though of a $100,000 plus payday is just too juicy to resist. His end will be enough to break with Duryea and the gang, not to mention get away from increasingly nutty Winters. The deal is nearly complete when Winters again fouls matters up. Caulfield now tumbles to the fix but realizes that she has fallen for the heel, Payne. Of course there is a spot of violence needed to settle the matter, with Winters biting the floor and Payne being hauled off to jail.
This is a pretty nifty upper B film which was Payne's first foray into film noir. Payne would also shine in, THE CROOKED WAY, 99 RIVER STREET, HIDDEN FEAR, KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, SLIGHTLY SCARLET and THE BOSS. Dan Duryea and Shelly Winters also had a fairly long list of noir on their resume.
The director here was veteran helmsman, George Sherman. Sherman could always be relied on to deliver a solid product. The man worked in several genres with, RELENTLESS, BLACK BART, SWORD IN THE DESERT, THE SLEEPING CITY, TOMAHAWK, WAR ARROW, BORDER RIVER, LAST OF THE FAST GUNS and BIG JAKE as examples of his films.
The screenplay features plenty of great lines and was supplied by William Bowers based on a novel by, Lois Eby. The two time, Oscar nominated Bowers worked on several top notch film noir, such as, THE WEB, THE MOB, PITFALL, ABANDONED, CRISS CROSS, CONVICTED, SPLIT SECOND and CRY DANGER.
I'm always surprised at just how drop dead gorgeous, Shelly Winters was as a young woman.