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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kansas City Confidential

Posted on Thu, Jul 12, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Kansas City Confidential
Studio: MGM
WorkNameSort: Kansas City Confidential
Phil Karlson's Kansas City Confidential is a veritable wax museum of film noir heavies, faces etched in the B-movie lexicon but rarely attaining A-list status. Look, there's Preston Foster as an ex-cop turned criminal mastermind who's rallying together three deadbeats with nothing to left to live for a foolproof bank heist. And isn't that Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam as the three degenerates brought in to do Foster's dirty work? And lo and behold, there's John Payne, the ex-con patsy at the scene of the crime who won't rest until the real felons are brought to justice. This is an archetypal and terrific example of '50s noir paranoia, directed with lots of deep-focus goodness and tight crops of bullet-sweating faces. It suffers only from that wearisome tendency of classic pictures (including even Hawks' Scarface) to outline the film's 'meaningâ?� in a useless title card before the movie begins, assuming we're too stupid to see it ourselves. Otherwise, this is a top-notch nail-biter with great performances from those perfectly hardscrabble pieces of human dynamite just waiting to explode.

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