Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DVD: New York Confidential (1955)

New York Confidential was once thought of as “the holy grail of missing noir films.” The only thing harder than finding a decent print was untangling who owned the rights. Both problems have been solved, and the movie finally debuted on DVD last month.

One of the many exposé films made in the wake of the Kefauver hearings into organized crime, NYC packs a dizzying amount of story into a fast-paced 87 minutes. I would expect no less from the team of Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse, also responsible for the sublime trash of Wicked Woman.

The movie prefigures The Godfather and Point Blank in terms of depicting the rackets as a corporate enterprise. The coiled spring that is Richard Conte plays a syndicate man from Chicago with the unimpeachably badass name of Nick Magellan. He’s sent to the Big Apple when boss Frank Lupo (Broderick Crawford) needs an outsider to handle some dirty work, and quickly makes himself indispensible.

The revelation of NYC is Anne Bancroft, whose Kathy is desperate to escape the stigma of being Lupo’s daughter. For a brief period early in her career Bancroft was groomed as the next Ava Gardner. She didn’t care for the roles but she was awfully good at them, as evidenced by her sexy and heartbreaking performance here. The DVD also features an informative commentary track by my Noir City Sentinel cohort and friend Alan K. Rode and Kim Morgan that’s well worth a listen.

On a related noir on home video note: the Red Riding trilogy comes out today, and should be in your queue already.