Kansas City Confidential

2447. KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (1952-USA). With JOHN PAYNE, COLEEN GRAY, PRESTON FOSTER, LEE VAN CLEEF. Directed by Phil Karlson. Veteran action director Phil Karlson keeps the suspense and fisticuffs rolling non-stop in this taut ‘film noir” melodrama. It opens with a daring bank heist which three masked men pull off in broad daylight. One suspect immediately is arrested. He is Joe Rolfe, who is driving a florist truck remarkably similar to the one in which the thieves made their getaway. Rolfe is innocent of any involvement in the robbery. Is he a poor unfortunate who just happened to have been in the wrong place at the right time? Or has he been set up as a fall guy? Rolfe may be a war hero who earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in battle, but he also is an ex-con who did some hard time after “getting into a jam over a gambling debt.” “You’ve got 20 years staring you right in the face,” a bullying cop bellows at Rolfe during a heated interrogation. While his innocence eventually is determined and he is set free, Rolfe’s problems are far from over. In a plot device that is at once clever and intriguing, it is revealed that the robbers are strangers who have never seen each other without their masks! Rolfe will use this fact to his advantage as he attempts to discover the thieves’ identities. As he does so, will he be walking into a deadly trap? John Payne offers a beautifully modulated, hard-boiled performance as Rolfe. In fact, it is one of his very best. 88 minutes. Crime Mystery Suspense