Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Are you into Edgar G. Ulmer films? Have you ever even heard the name? Well, this is one of them, if you know who that was. Here, we have a desert casino - years before Las Vegas had its first one - run by a gangster. If that isn't prescient, I don't know what is.
This is just an awesomely weird movie, and it has high camp value because of that. A bunch of folks, some quite ordinary and some ... not ... are stuck out in the desert, and we get treated to gunfights, beatings, escaped cons on the lamb, and just the strangest military parade I've ever seen. And things only get weirder, if that's possible, when "Big Charlie" and his boys enters the picture and start shooting up the joint.
To say this film hasn't aged well is sort of like saying that things didn't turn out so well for Hitler. And speaking of whom, he is brought up in this film in such a bizarre fashion that if you aren't expecting it, your jaw will quite literally drop. Mine did.
Jean Parker plays the girl of the local aging hood who everybody is fighting over - why, I couldn't tell you. She has a big love thing going on with an Army Officer, played by William Marshall. The chemistry is so lacking, though, that when she is blackmailed by the Officer's rival into telling him to get lost, we almost sigh in relief. Ricardo Cortez, he of much, much better days, plays the rival, a whacked-out gangster casino owner who is always accompanied by one of his "boys" who is packing heat should anyone dare to cause any trouble. At the end, after getting his inevitable comeuppance, Cortez winds up looking like Bela Lugosi on a very bad day. And again, all this is happening way out in the middle of the desert! The film has to be seen to be believed, this one is up there with "Plan 9 from Outer Space."