Alan K. Rode posited that the year 1950 was an important one for film noir. That year saw the start of the Korean War, the Brinks robbery, the first credit car (Diner’s Club, for those who’re interested), railroads under government supervision, and more. It also marked the pinnacle of postwar noir realism with such titles as In a Lonely Place, The Asphalt Jungle, Armored Car Robbery, The Breaking Point, and The Underworld Story.
The Underworld Story (which Rode called a “nervous ‘A’ picture” rather than a “B” picture, due to its half a million dollar budget) features slimeball newspaper reporter Mike Reese (Dan Duryea) who prefigures Kirk Douglas’s Chuck Tatum in Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole by a year. Unlike Tatum, Reece isn’t consistently a slimeball, but it’s Dan Duryea; he’s not exactly going to be teaching Sunday School.
The film has a lot going for it, but it also contains a major embarrassment in casting: rather than casting African-American woman for an African-American role, the producers hired the white actress Mary Anderson (above center). Although miscast, Anderson is good, part of a great supporting cast which includes Herbert Marshall, Gale Storm, Howard Da Silva, Michael O’Shea, and very small parts for Alan Hale Jr. and Edward Van Sloan (in his final film).
It’s always fun to see a film produced by the King Brothers. No matter how small the budget, it’s going to be entertaining and Southside 1-1000 certainly is that.
You’ve got counterfeiters, an undercover treasury agent (played by Don DeFore), low-level thugs, a femme fatale, and even a body sailing out a window. The film certainly has its limitations, but watching it will be 73 minutes well-spent. If you’d like to find out more about the film, I reviewed it earlier this year.
I was delighted to be joined by my longtime Twitter friend Casey K. (Noir Girl) and her mom for The Blue Dahlia. Casey graces Noir City with some of the most amazing period dresses I’ve ever seen and I hope we’ll see more from her during the second weekend of the festival.
Stay tuned, there’s much more film noir on the way...