Not a wasted second in this classic. Put this on the must see list. Alan Ladd in his first starring role in a movie based on the Graham Greene book. The screen play was co-written by W.R.Burnett, famous for “Little Caesar.” Always welcome is one of the movie’s most beautiful women, Veronica Lake.
Philip Raven (Alan Ladd) is a hit man. He’s hired to bump off a paymaster for a chemical company engaging in blackmail. He’s Albert Baker (Frank Ferguson). Raven kills him and his female companion. He grabs some papers including a formula for some gas.
He’s paid off in ten dollar bills by Willard Gates (Laird Cregar). Gates doesn’t want to know the details since he’s frightened by any kind of violence. Raven doesn’t know it but the money was stolen from a robbery and the cops have the serial numbers of the bills.
Gates goes to the San Francisco police and says his boss wants the case solved yesterday. In town from the L.A. department to help is Michael Crane (Robert Preston).
Crane’s girlfriend is nightclub entertainer Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake). She sings and does a magic act. She’s hired to work in Gates’ L.A. club. She’s met outside by Senator Burnett and asked to work undercover.
Raven buys a dress for a girl at his rooming house. He tore hers in a fit of temper when she chased a cat out of his room. The sales clerk checks the number with a list of stolen bills and calls the cops. Now Raven has to leave town.
On the train to L.A. he ends up sitting next to Ellen. Coming down the aisle is Gates. He sees the two and thinks they’re together. They don’t see him.
To go any furhehr would be loaded with spoilers. This is one of my favorite 40’s movies and highly recommended.
Veronica Lake has a couple songs. Her voice is dubbed by Martha Mears. Mears’ voice was used in almost thirty movies including “DuBarry Was A Lady” where she dubbed Lucille Ball’s singing voice.
Character actor Frank Ferguson appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows between 1940-77. He played Eli Carson in “Peyton Place” (1964-69).
Victor Kilian appears as Drew, the man who pushes the wheelchair of the head of the chemical company. He appeared in many movies and TV shows. He’s probably best known as Raymond Larkin, the grandfather on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” (1976-77)
Great entertainment. Ladd was never better.
Another great Ladd movie is 1942’s “The Glass Key.”