Probably the first time, but not the last, that Frank Sinatra tried to be Humphrey Bogart on screen. Little did he know that he had enough of his own presence to make the part fly.
Ostensibly the story about a putative assassination of the US President (that would have been Eisenhower at the time (a German noun meaning metal beater, or iron worker, making him suspiciously German for a guy who beat up the Germans). Ir maybe they were talking about Truman. Not so ostensibly a film Sinatra needed to earn some money at a time his career was flagging for heroin abuse and delusions of grandeur.
Not much here that wasn’t on TV at the time too, with Sterling Hayden coming across as one of those loud and unsympathetic cops I loathed as a kid when watching American TV shows. Nor did I like the kid, whom I’d have beaten up between classes for being a right little Nazi.
The reason this is nowhere near film noir is that it wears its heart on its sleeve, with no need to hide or allude to anything. Everything is right out in the open, and none of it really means anything. Except, perhaps, the idea that violent gun crime can be unpredictable and acceptable. Is this where that idea started?
United Artists, 75 minutes, black and white.
Dirercted by Lewis Allen. Written by Richard Sale. Cinematography by Charles G Clarke. Produced by Robert Bassler. Music by David Raksin.
Featuring Frank Sinatra as John Baron, Sterling Hayden as Sheriff Tod Shaw, James Gleason as Peter ‘Pop’ Benson, Nancy Gates as Ellen Benson, Kim Charney as Peter ‘Pidge’ Benson III, Paul Frees as Benny Conklin, Christopher Dark as Bart Wheeler. Willis Bouchey as Dan Carney Paul Wexler as Deputy Slim Adams, James O’Hara as Jud Kelly, Kem Dibbs as Wilson, Clark Howat as Haggerty, Charles Smith as Bebop.