Friday, April 15, 2011

MYSTERY STREET (1950)

Highly entertaining police procedural about a small town cop (a young Ricardo Montalban) who's trying to solve to murder of a prostitute. All he has to go on at the beginning is some bones that washed up on the beach. He takes the bones to Harvard Medical School and from what he learns there he starts his investigation about the identity of who the bones belong to, how she ended up missing and whether she was murdered or not and if so by who? Of course all kinds of roadblocks arise including and lying witness and a landlady who's looking to blackmail the killer!

The story was well written (it was even nominated for an Oscar), but the most surprising thing to me about the film is how wonderful Ricardo Montalban was. I've always known him to be a good actor, but he was really good here portraying the driven detective who starts to have internal doubts about the case he's created. A lot of what goes on with his character is unspoken and Ricardo does an excellent job relaying all of that to the viewer. I kept finding myself wishing that they'd made an entire series of these crime dramas centered around his character.

As far as film noir goes MYSTERY STREET isn't a dark film filled with deep shadows. It's really just more of a mystery/crime drama, but who's cares? It's a great film and it would make an excellent double feature with T-MEN.

I also want to mention that Jan Sterling who scared the living shit out of my four years later in THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY was smoking hot here and very seductive. The scene where she picks up Marshall Thompson in the bar nearly melted my DVD player!