Friday, July 24, 2015

Kansas City Confidential

TCM has been showing a lot of noirs in its Summer of Darkness festival which has one more Friday to run after today. One of the movies that I've mentioned briefly a couple of times, but never actually done a full length post on, is Kansas City Confidential, coming up today at 1:15 PM.

John Payne stars as florist deliveryman Joe Rolfe. He's got a routine at the job, and wouldn't you know that somebody else knows about that routine. That somebody else is ex-cop Tim Foster (Preston Foster), and he's been following Rolfe's routine because of a scheme he has to get his job back. The thing is, the florist shop is right next to a bank, and Foster is watching when the florist vans come and go, and when the armored cars come and go from the banks. Foster's plan is to get a couple of thugs together to rob the bank, and then "solve" the crime himself, which will have him become a hero in the process. In order to keep the other members of the gang from ratting him out, he wears a mask and has all of them wear masks too so that none of them will recognize each other. (Except, of course, Foster knows all of them.)

So Foster and his gang rob the place, and one of the results is that Joe gets arrested for it, since the police naturally figure that with Joe's schedule, he's the one who would have been in the delivery van from which the robbers emerged. That, and Joe has already been in jail once before. It's only natural that the cops aren't going to believe him, and that when evidence comes out that Joe is in fact innocent of the crime, he's going to have to find the real robbers himself.

Joe does some investigating and gets word from a friend that perhaps all of the robbers went to Tijuana. Joe's response is to make his way to Mexico, where he will of course find the robbers. But he's also going to run into Helen (Colleen Gray). She's studying law at college, and she's in Mexico on her term break to see her father, who, having been dismissed from the police force, has decided to go to Mexico ostensibly for his health, but is of course really there to complete the robbery scheme. What he doesn't realize is that it's already not going the way he planned.

Not only has Joe begun to fall in love with Helen, the feeling is mutual. But more importantly for Daddy, Joe has found one of the other bank robbers only for that guy to get shot in an altercation with the police. Joe's thoroughly logical idea is to take that robbers' identity so that he can find the actual mastermind of the whole thing. (He should consider himself lucky he didn't run into the mastermind first and have to impersonate the mastermind.)

It's all quite interesting, but then there's the ending. One of the previous times I mentioned the movie, I pointed out that it was made under the Production Code, which of course means that crime must not pay. So we're going to have to get script gyrations for Joe to be fully vindicated, for all the bad guys to get their due, and for Joe and Helen to be able to live happily ever after. (I don't think audiences would have gone for a twist that had Helen being in on the robbery.) There's also the plot hole surrounding the robbers' masks. This is obviously so that they won't be able to recognize each other's faces out in the real world. But there's no reason they couldn't recognize each other's voices. But there are a whole lot of Hollywood movies that had to deal with that aspect of the Production Code. Kansas City Confidential is still a very good movie in spite of that.

I'm sorry I haven't given you more advance warning of the upcoming showing on TCM, but at least this one is in print on DVD, in case you miss today's showing.

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