The Walking Target (1960)

US / 74 minutes / bw / Zenith, UA Dir: Edward L. Cahn Pr: Robert E. Kent Scr: Stephen Kandel Cine: Maury Gertsman Cast: Joan Evans, Ronald Foster, Merry Anders, Harp McGuire, Robert Christopher, Berry Kroeger, Bill Couch, Norm Alden, James Callahan, J. Edward McKinley, William Fawcett, Guy Wilkerson, Harvey Parry.

A more than competent little crime outing that would certainly have been included in my Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir had it not flown below my radar; although its ending somewhat unexpectedly abjures the principles of noirish nihilism—I wouldn’t say it’s outright happy but it’s certainly hopeful—the rest of the movie, cinematography excepted, is full of noirish tropes. This is a film noir in all but recognition as such. I console myself with the fact that it’s managed to fly under all the other relevant radars, not just mine.

Ah, well, I can make amends now.

Nick Harbin (Foster) has done five years for a payroll heist that went horribly wrong: he was captured, his accomplice Jerry (Parry) was shot dead at the scene and his other accomplice, Sam Russo (Alden), was killed by the cops later when making an ill advised run for it.

Ronald Foster as Nick Harbin

The day of Nick’s release comes, and Warden John B. Haggerty (McKinley) warns him that, since he’s never divulged the location of the loot, he’ll be a Continue reading

The Christmas Caper (1952 TVM)

US / 26 minutes / bw / Showcase, CBS Dir: Erle C. Kenton Pr: Hal Roach Jr, Carroll Case Scr: Arthur Orloff Cine: Norbert Brodine Cast: Reed Hadley, Lloyd Corrigan, John L. Coogan (i.e., Jackie Coogan), Alan Dexter, John Phillips, Willie Best, Louis Lettieri, Jeri Lou James, Paul Keast, Argentina Brunetti, Frances Drew, William Fawcett.

Produced at the Hal Roach studios and (alas) sponsored by tobacco giant Philip Morris Inc., Racket Squad ran for a total of 98 episodes between 1951 and 1953. (The Christmas Caper, series 3 episode 15, was first aired on December 25 1952.) As its series hero, Captain John Braddock (Reed Hadley), explained at the outset of each episode,

What you are about to see is a real-life story taken from the files of the police racket and bunko squad, the business protective associations and similar sources all over the country. It is intended to expose the confidence game, the carefully worked-out frauds by which confidence men take more money each year from the American public than the bank robbers and thugs with their violence.

Reed Hadley as Captain John Braddock.

In this particular instance:

Tonight I’m going to tell you a story that’s a little different from the ones you’ve been seeing. It exposes a racket just as the others have done, and it’s a nasty racket that takes hard-earned money from honest people and puts it into the pockets of thieves. But still it’s a different story, first because it’s a Christmas story and second because it put me on a spot I never want to be put on again: I had to arrest Santa Claus . . .

In a poor quarter of the large city where Braddock’s Racket Squad operates, elderly Charlie Dooley (Corrigan) lives alone with his dog Monster. Alone? Well, not so much. All the kids Continue reading