BIG HOUSE USA
1955, MGM/Park Circus, 83 min, USA, Dir: Howard Koch

No meaner, more vicious band of bust-out psychos was ever crammed together in one cell block: Ralph Meeker, Broderick Crawford, Charles Bronson, Lon Chaney Jr. and William Talman! Meeker plays a child kidnapper sent to the Big House after his young hostage dies. He then leads the crazed cons in a breakout to retrieve the hidden ransom! Director Howard Koch turns John C. Higgins’ twist-filled script into the most jaw-droppingly brutal prison film of the 1950s!


BLACK ANGEL
1945, Universal, 81 min, USA, Dir: Roy William Neil

In this spellbinding adaptation of Woolrich’s thriller, noir favorite Dan Duryea gives a terrific performance as a pickled pianist whose estranged wife is murdered. When her husband is charged with the crime, nightclub canary June Vincent enlists drunken Dan’s help in a search for the real culprit. Broderick Crawford and Peter Lorre add muscle and menace to the typically warped Woolrich atmosphere, well rendered by director Roy William Neil.


DOWN THREE DARK STREETS
1954, United Artists [MGM Repertory], 85 min, USA, Dir: Arnold Laven

Seeking to solve the murder of a colleague, FBI agent John Ripley (Broderick Crawford) doggedly pursues the late agent’s last three cases, hoping to uncover the killer. He discovers a trifecta of dames (Ruth Roman, Martha Hyer, Marisa Pavan) entangled in extortion and murder. Based on a trio of true FBI cases as adapted by The Gordons, the film benefits from fantastic Los Angeles location work, including one of the earliest (and best) uses of the famed Hollywood sign. Not on DVD!


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