Again, much thanks to Amazon Prime Video for this one. It came out in 1947, when I was in the first grade. It’s Shoot to Kill. Saw it the first time in December. It was distributed by Screen Guild Productions. Details are from Wikipedia. It’s bad in a number of ways, but mainly for a planked over plot.
This starts with a police car chase at night, ending in a crash. Los Angeles, likely. The car goes off the road and into one of those steep canyons the place is famous for. Killed are gangster “Dixie” Logan (Robert Kent) and newly-minted District Attorney Lawrence Dale (Edmund MacDonald). The sole survivor is Dale’s supposed wife Marian (Luana Walters). Ace police reporter George “Mitch” Mitchell (Russell Wade) visits Marian in the hospital to get the full story.
Marian recounts how it all started. She and Mitch first met at Wade’s office when she came there to apply for a secretary job. She gets hired and starts a romance with her new boss.
Meanwhile Mitch romances the future Mrs. Dale, and this scene at an upscale restaurant is the only cultural interlude in the entire movie. Gene Rodgers plays a lively jazz piece. I believe we called it boogie-woogie in those days.
Marian recounts how she came to watch Logan’s criminal racketeering trial and also to observe prosecutor Wade in action. He parades witness after witness to put Logan away for decades. Logan is defiant and vows revenge.
Still in flashback, the janitor (Vince Barnett) who cleans Wade’s office is seen messing with a hidden recording device. About that time two hit men working for a local gangster identify him as a member of Logan’s gang and whisk him down the hall to dump him into an elevator shaft.
The local gangsters want Wade to fire Marian, because they suspect she is involved in the spying. Wade is in cahoots with the gangsters. Instead, Wade marries Marian in a rushed ceremony. Leaving the wedding at the JP’s office, Marian escapes a pistol shot from a car that speeds away.
Back at Wade’s domicile, the newlyweds have a confrontation. Marian reveals that for her this is a marriage of convenience. She knows about Wade’s criminal involvement, and she intends to get Wade promoted to district attorney. He goes along with the plan. No wedding night bliss for him.
Logan escapes. He confronts two witnesses from his trial, back in town to claim the remainder of the money promised by the local gangsters for testifying falsely against him. He coerces confessions from the two, pays them, and sends them on their way, to be gunned down on the street as they leave. The killers are from the local gang. Mitch has been observing all of this and attempts to snag copies of the confessions, but he loses a tussle with Logan, and Logan gets away with the two documents.
Anyhow, there is a big brouhaha involving Wade, Marian, and Logan. Everything comes to a head. Marian is in reality Logan’s legal wife, having set out to prove his innocence. Too late for Logan and Wade. She has mailed incriminating documents to the now district attorney, and the police are coming. The police chase ensues, and we are back to where the story picked up in the beginning.
All the crooks are either dead now or else incriminated, and Mitch makes moves on Marian.
Yes, this plot is too plastic to be real. Crooks are scheming with shady politicians to “take over the city,” whatever that means. There was a corral full of these idealistic story lines in the late 40s, and this is one of the lesser believable. Contemplate this segment of the plot:
Marian convinces Wade he should cut his three partners in crime out by playing them off against each other. Cut to three scenes in sequence with Wade telling each in turn something like, “I plan to get rid of the other two so we can have the city all to ourselves.” Pure corn.
This production chews up 64 minutes of celluloid, according to Wikipedia. No bathroom break needed.