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Two Smart People

Posted by martinteller on July 25, 2013

Ace Connors (John Hodiak) and Ricki Woodner (Lucille Ball) are two con artists who meet trying to swindle the same pigeon.  Each foils the other’s plans.  Ricki gets a tip that will give her a shot at revenge… the slimy Fly Feletti (Elisha Cook Jr.), who has a score to settle with Ace, tells her that Connors is in possession of bonds worth half a million dollars.  If she can get them, they’ll split the cash.  But Connors is on his way to New York, in the company of Bob Simms (Lloyd Nolan)… a detective taking him to jail for the theft of those same bonds.  Ricki hops on the same train, and eventually she falls for Ace and Ace falls for her, but what to do about Simms and the persistent Feletti?

Jules Dassin is responsible for some great noir, including Thieves’ Highway, Night and the City and the French production Rififi (some would also include The Naked City, but I’m not too fond of that one).  This isn’t in that league, but it’s not a pure noir either.  Part noir, part comedy, mostly romance.  But it doesn’t feel like a movie shifting gears, it flows quite naturally.  On the other hand, it’s kind of a drag as the movie gets less and less fun.  Not that there isn’t enjoyment to be found in the romance, but the comical tone set early on is missed in the latter half of the film.

Hodiak and Ball have nice chemistry together.  Not electric, but it works.  It’s made more interesting by the possible doubts that both are sincere in their affection.  Hodiak and Nolan have good chemistry as well, bouncing off each other like friendly adversaries.  And Cook is great at playing this sort of ineffective criminal who’s still got a hint of danger to him.

It’s not the type of movie that anyone is going to get too excited about, but it’s certainly an easy watch.  Dassin’s work improves with his next film, Brute Force, but there’s a level of craftsmanship here to be admired.  Rating: Good (72)


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