Kansas City Confidential

Tagline : The Crime That Shocked The Nation!

Runtime : 99 mins

Genre : Crime

Vote Rating : 7.1/10

Reviews for this movie are available below.

Plot : A down-on-his-luck ex-GI finds himself framed for an armored car robbery. When he's finally released for lack of evidence--after having been beaten up and tortured by the police--he sets out to discover who set him up, and why. The trail leads him into Mexico and a web of hired killers and corrupt cops.

Cast Members

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Unlucky Joe And The Torn In Half Kings. Kansas City Confidential (AKA: The Secret Four) is directed by Phil Karlson and written by George Bruce and Harry Essex. It stars John Payne, Preston Foster, Coleen Gray, Neville Brand, Jack Elam and Lee Van Cleef. Music is by Paul Sawtell and cinematography by George E. Diskant. Plot sees four robbers hold up an armoured truck and get away with over a million dollars. Sadly for everyday and ordinary Joe Rolfe (Payne), he's set up and accused of being involved in the robbery. But he wont go down without a fight, and promptly calls upon his dark half to seek out the actual culprits himself. "In the police annals of Kansas City are written lurid chapters concerning the exploits of criminals apprehended and brought to punishment. But it is the purpose of this picture to expose the amazing operations of a man who conceived and executed a "perfect" crime, the true solution of which is "not" entered in "any" case history, and could well be entitled "Kansas City Confidential". Produced by Edward Small, Kansas City Confidential is believed to be the only film released out of Small's own Associated Players and Producers studio. Still, if you are going to only have one film on your studio résumé, you have to be thankful that it's a little cracker. More "B" movie grit than film noir flecked nastiness, Karlson's movie is lean, mean and structured with knowing skill by the director. From the tremendous tension fuelled opening of the heist planning and execution, through to the deadly payoff at the finale, film is awash with knuckle slappings, shifting identities and the turning of the protagonist's psychological make up. Were it not for one of "those" endings, and the telegraphing of optimism slightly shunting the pessimistic atmosphere out of the headlights, this would undoubtedly be far more revered and better known in film noir/crime movie circles. First thing to note of worth is the cast assembled for the picture. Payne was already leaving behind his formative acting years in family fare like Miracle On 34th Street and Footlight Serenade, reinventing himself as a dramatic actor in films such as The Crooked Way. He's a perfect fit for Joe Rolfe, an ex-con war veteran down on his luck, he has his every man qualities pummelled out of him by the police, so much so he has to turn bad to prove that he's good. The change is believable in Payne's hands, his face that of normality in the beginning, but latterly icy cold and untrustworthy. A trio of "B" movie stalwarts make up the thugs gallery, Jack Elam is sweaty and worm like, Lee Van Cleef is snake faced and pulsing bad attitude, while Neville Brand exudes borderline psychotic menace. Unfortunately Preston Foster as the "boss" man is not altogether convincing, but in a film where characters are not always what they seem, this doesn't hurt the film. Coleen Gray shows a nice pair of legs for the boys, but with Karlson not bothered about fleshing out the romantic and flirting aspects of her relationship with Payne, she exists only as a secondary cog between Payne and Foster's characters. This is no femme fatale character, sadly, no sir. Music is standard fare and Diskant's photography only fleetingly shows some noir flourishes. However, with two fists full of grit from which to punch, and some boldness in the narrative involving police brutality, Kansas City Confidential comes out as one of the better "B" ranked crime movies of the 50's. 8/10

This is quite a clever, well paced crime-noir with a really rather good performance from John Payne as "Joe", a former soldier/ex-con who, whilst on his routine flower-delivery rounds - ends up getting framed for a massive armed robbery. Luckily for him, the police can't press charges - all the robbers wore masks - and so he decides to track down the thugs and claim a share of the cash for himself. You get where this is going early on, but when you see Jack Elam and Lee Van Cleef on the cast list, you know that you are in for a bumpy ride. There are plenty of crosses and double-crosses as he and the gang (none of whom know the identity of their criminal mastermind) try to get to Mexico and to the loot. It's a good end-to-end action adventure, with a taut, eery score from Paul Sawtell adding much to the sinister lighting effects that give this film a much better than average sense of suspense.

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