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Flaxy Martin

Posted by martinteller on September 14, 2013

Walter Colby (Zachary Scott) is the attorney for gangster Hap Richie (Douglas Kennedy), but he’s troubled by his conscience.  After getting one of Hap’s thugs (Jack Overman) out of a murder charge, Colby wants out when he discovers that a key witness, Peggy Farrar, (Helen Westcott) was on the take.  Then Peggy winds up dead, and Colby’s gal Flaxy Martin (Virginia Mayo) is the prime suspect.  Colby tries to take the rap himself, thinking he can work his way out of it.  But what he doesn’t know is that Flaxy is actually Hap’s girl, and the double-cross is in.  Now Colby’s on the run from the cops and Hap’s killer goon Roper (Elisha Cook Jr.), with only a good Samaritan (Dorothy Malone) to help him.

Director Richard L. Bare is an unknown quantity to me.  He helmed over 60 “So You” comedy shorts (So You Want to Be a Baby Sitter, So You Think You Need Glasses, et cetera) with the “Joe McDoakes” character and 168 episodes of “Green Acres”.  Doesn’t sound like a noir guy, but he pulls it off well enough.  Little of the movie is truly great, but it holds together and features a couple of gritty standout sequences… including a terrific rooftop standoff between Scott and Cook.

The film would be better if it stayed true to its title.  Mayo disappears for a very large chunk of the film while Scott is on the lam and doesn’t return until the climax.  But when she is on screen, she makes a pretty compelling (and compellingly pretty) femme fatale, always working the angles.  Scott, as usual, is passable but lacks enough moxie to carry a leading role.  Malone is once again stuck in a good girl role that doesn’t make use of her talents.  It’s the Malone-heavy scenes where the film starts to sag, and one wishes for a little excitement.

Overall the movie is virtually indistinguishable from a hundred other crime dramas, and there are some questionable choices (Colby doesn’t seem like a very smart lawyer) but it’s a pretty fun time.  Forgettable but watchable.  And the score by Looney Tunes composer William Lava is quite good.  Rating: Good (73)


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