Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Las Vegas Story (1952)

The Las Vegas Story is a 1952 RKO crime picture with some film noir flavouring.

I don’t know about you but personally I find the idea of Victor Mature, Jane Russell and Vincent Price together in anything noirish very attractive.

I love movies about Las Vegas, probably because I’ve never been there. For me Vegas is a city of the imagination. I’m sure it never was quite the way it’s depicted in movies but I don’t care. For me the Vegas of the movies and of my imagination is the real Vegas. Who needs reality?

Lloyd Rollins (Vincent Price) and his wife Linda (Jane Russell) have just arrived in Vegas. Lloyd is looking forward to some serious gambling. He’s a bit of a high roller. He can afford it. He’s extremely rich. Linda has a really nice necklace, a gift from her husband. It’s worth 150 grand. He’s extremely rich indeed.

Except that very early on Linda reads a wire addressed to her husband which suggests that maybe his financial position is not quite so secure.

Lloyd and Linda seem happy enough but something happened in the past that still casts its shadow over their marriage. It happened in Vegas, at the Last Chance, where Linda used to sing.

It involved Dave (Victor Mature). Dave was in the army then. Linda was his girl. Dave has always thought that she ran out on him. Perhaps she did. Dave is still in Vegas. Now he’s a detective lieutenant in the sheriff’s department. Naturally Linda runs into Dave. It’s a tense meeting. Dave hasn’t forgiven her. He’s very bitter. Maybe he’s still in love with her. Maybe she did love him and maybe she still does. It’s not easy to escape the past.

There’s plenty of potential here for some twisted romantic dramas.

Lloyd is losing lots of money at the gaming tables, money which he may not be able to afford to lose. That necklace becomes important again.

This is a crime movie and there will indeed be a crime. That crime will have consequences for Lloyd, Linda and Dave. And yes, once again the necklace is involved.

The crime could possibly involve several other people, like the former owner of the Last Chance and a smooth slimy insurance investigator. There are potentially quite a few suspects.

Victor Mature is such an underrated actor and he’s in fine form here. He plays Dave as an embittered man but a sympathetic character as well. He’s a decent guy but he got hurt real bad. It’s a fine nuanced performance.

Vincent Price was always superb in these kinds of movies. Lloyd might be a louse or he might be a loser or he might be a guy who’s just managed to get himself in a jam. He might be fundamentally decent. We can’t be sure. Price gives a wonderfully ambiguous performance.

Jane Russell was always good in noirish melodramas. Linda is another character with a bit of complexity. She doesn’t seen like a femme fatale, but she does seem like she might be a dangerous dame to know. She’s too beautiful and glamorous not to be dangerous. She’s not quite hardboiled but there is an edge to her. She’s a girl who thought she knew what she wanted but when she got it she wasn’t so sure.

Hoagy Carmichael makes an appearance and doesn’t just sing and play the piano but acts as well.

The black-and-white cinematography is not especially noirish but it does capture the seductive dangerous glamour of Vegas pretty well. There’s some nice hardboiled dialogue.

This is not really a film noir at all. Not even close. It is however a fairly enjoyable crime/romance melodrama. The Vegas setting and the three lead performances make it worth seeing.

The Warner Archive DVD offers a very nice transfer.

No comments:

Post a Comment