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The Naked Street

Posted by martinteller on January 6, 2015

Phil Regal (Anthony Quinn) is a racketeer, shaking down businessmen for protection money.  He loves his family, especially his sister Rosalie (Anne Bancroft).  Rosalie has dropped out of college because she’s pregnant.  And the biggest problem is that the guy who knocked her up is local nogoodnik Nicky Bradna (Farley Granger)… who is currently on death row for killing a shopkeeper during a robbery.  Phil leans on the witnesses to recant their testimony, getting Nicky off the hook so he can make an honest woman out of Rosalie.  But Nicky doesn’t want to play it straight, and Phil comes to regret his decision.  While Regal works out a plan to get Nicky out of the picture again, reporter Joe McFarland (Peter Graves) tries to expose him and his criminal dealings.

The worst thing about watching unremarkable movies is trying to come up with remarks about them for these reviews.  This film is all too willing to coast along on the usual characterizations, average performances, passable cinematography and a so-so script.  It fulfills the task of telling a story but that’s about it.  There’s some attempt at social commentary, critiquing a justice system that’s too readily corruptible, but nothing hits home because everyone’s just reading from the standard playbook.  Lines like “You got your big story, now get out!” are stale and unconvincing, and the actors know it too.

Quinn and Bancroft are the best among the cast, no complaints about their performances except that neither seems all that enthused.  Graves will just always be Captain Oveur (Airplane!) to me… his uptight delivery is great for comedy but kinda stupid when you’re supposed to take him seriously.  His voiceover work here is off-putting at worst, and nothing special at best.  As for Granger, while it’s nice to see him stretch a bit, I just don’t buy him as a rough kid from the streets.  His phony baloney New Yawk accent is a joke.  Notable familiar faces (in very small roles) include Lee Van Cleef, Whit Bissell and Kubrick favorite Joe Turkel.  Also writer/director Maxwell Shane appears as a mugshot.  I imagine his crime is making forgettable movies.

File under “watchable, but why bother?”  Rating: Fair (68)

addendum 1/7/15: I forgot to mention that this film features one of the most obvious cases of foreshadowing I’ve ever seen.  If you can’t guess how Regal is ultimately going to go down, you weren’t paying attention at all.


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