Kansas City Confidential (1952)

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Just like in THE DARK CORNER (1946), in Kansas City Confidential we have an innocent guy framed, suspected, arrested and then just about destroyed by the process of clearing his name.  The whole idea is for one guy, in this case John Payne playing an ex-con, ex-military florist delivery dude, moral vindication is sought in the swamp of urban crime.

Edward Small, an independent film producer known for a series of comedies starring Dennis O'Keefe, crossed over to noir, and made a couple of these with John Payne, including this one and 99 RIVER STREET (1953).

There is bitterness in spades.  A bitter ex-cop and a bitter ex-con, both on missions of vindication hook up with a bitter womaniser, a bitter gambler, and a bitter killer.  Physical violence is the driver, in this film noir.  The police beat up Payne, and the cons all beat each other up, with bitch slaps being issued in just about every scene.

This is a film noir without a femme fatale, and instead we have a mild love interest in the form of Coleen Gray.  She is useful, I guess, in that her smile indicates that the violence is over for now, as is the greed and the cheating. Love 'interest' may be putting it too strongly in the case of this script, and despite the fact that her character is training for the bar, it isn't a great role.

The vindication of Payne's character in Kansas City Confidential is a daunting process, but Coleen Gray is waiting at the end, 'cos no matter how bleak it's been, Hollywood can't but help leave you with a smile.

From United Artists / Associated Players and Producers

Jack Elam

Jack Elam

Icognito Robbery!

If I can spot you back of those trick cheaters, so can the cops!

I know a sure cure for a nosebleed: a cold knife in the middle of the back.

John Payne

Neville Brand

Lee Van Cleef

Coleen Gray

Neville Brand


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