Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Miami Story

A couple of years back, I picked up the Noir Archive Volume 1 Blu-ray set. Recently, I put another of the films from that set into the player: The Miami Story. I don't think I'd quite consider it a noir, but it's a worthwhile watch and people like Eddie Muller probably would say it's noir adjacent.

The movie starts off with one of those narrations like you'd see in the Fox docudramas, talking about how the virtuous federal authorities were smashing organized crime rings in the years after World War II, with the results that the bigwigs in organized crime decamped to someplace that wasn't known as a hotbed of crime, that being Miami, which you could probably have figured out considering the title of the movie. Anyhow, we get a flight from Havana -- this was still five years before the Castro revolution succeeded in bringing Communism and misery to the island -- landing at the airport. Two men get shot to death deplaning while a female witness is horrified.

Getting away with murder is Ted Delacorte (John Baer). He works for one of the crime syndicates, led by Tony Brill (Luther Adler). Brill's big place in Miami is the Biscayne Club, which has illegal gambling; Brill has hired Gwen Abbott (Adele Jergens) to handle the touts, young women who bring in wealthy tourists to gamble and lose at the casino.

The good-government types in Miami are horrified at the crime that's going on. Newspaperman Charles Earnshaw brings several of them together, and has an idea. Some years back, there was a gangster named Mike Flagg who knew Brill. But Flagg went absent a dozen years ago after having been framed for murder by Brill, and may be dead for all we know. Earnshaw has the daring idea of taking out ads in papers looking for Flagg, who has changed his name to Pierce and lives in rural Indiana with his young son.

Sure enough, however, people in Indiana recognize the photo, and Mike Flagg (Barry Sullivan) is kinda sorta forced to go to Florida to redeem his good name. He gets in touch with Earnshaw and the police, who are willing to use him to do things that the police might not be able to do themselves. Or at least, they wouldn't be able to do those things back in the days when people thought the police were virtuous. Nowadays the police have no compunction about violating the Fourth Amendment, or any other Amendment for that matter.

Coming to see Mike is the woman who was the witness on the plane. This is Holly (Beverly Garland), who just happens to be the sister of Gwen Abbott. Holly had gone to Havana because she heard her sister was there (she was before returning to Miami) and is looking for her. Eventually Gwen does come calling and gives Holly the sensible advice to get the hell out of Miami if she knows what's good for her. Holly doesn't, and gets the crap beat out of her.

It goes on like this, with more twists and turns, for a brief running time of 75 minutes. The Miami Story is not exactly bad, but it's certainly not anything groundbreaking either. Watching it feels like watching any of a hundred other gangster movies. But Sullivan and Adler are both old pros, doing their jobs well and make this one more than worth a watch among the B movies out there. It's just more of a crime movie than a noir.

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