My Letterboxd watchlist journey continues today with The Come On (1956), a low-budget film noir starring Anne Baxter, Sterling Hayden, and John Hoyt, directed by Russell Birdwell.
In this case, the set-up really is a set-up: Rita (Anne Baxter) is a con artist working with her husband (or is he her husband?) Harold King (John Hoyt) in La Paz, Mexico. Rita meets a fisherman named Dave Arnold (Sterling Hayden) and lures him in as a potential big catch. Along the way, Rita pleads with Dave to murder her controlling husband, allowing them to split the money. (Wait a minute… Don’t these people always want to commit a crime and flee to Mexico? They’re already in Mexico!) And then things begin to get complicated…
Who’s Responsible for This?
I’d known about this movie for a few years, but was reminded of it recently during the August edition of Ask Eddie. (The discussion of The Come On begins at 11:30 in the video.) Eddie Muller mentioned that The Come On has an interesting script, but doesn’t look like a film noir at all. Thematically, however, it’s right smack in noir territory with cons, deception, murder, and Anne Baxter and Sterling Hayden in swimwear.
Muller is right: The Come On is interesting, largely due to the fact that we’re never quite sure if we can believe Rita, which keeps us guessing right up 'til the end. Baxter, Hayden, and Hoyt are all fantastic, even if they’re working with a pretty low budget.
Muller also mentioned that the film is a Paramount release and that they only have one print (that needs restoration). I found the film (in pretty poor quality) streaming on ok.ru, so you can check it out there if you feel led to do so. I think you’ll enjoy it. How can you not like hearing Hayden tell Baxter, “Women like you belong to nobody. And everybody,” just before he grabs her for a kiss, the harsh Sterling Hayden kind?