Crime, Inc. (1945) is packed with great character actors, such as Leonard Sheldon, Lionell Atwood, & many whose faces if not their names you will recognize.
It's based on a novel by crime reporter Martin Mooney, who incorporated many fact-based elements in his book, causing this film to be advertised as a "true" story, though it's at least twice removed from fact.
Crime reporter Jim Riley (Tom Neal) devotes his investigative & reportorial talents to bringing down mobsters. In protecting his informant he risks imprisonment for refusing to answer questions for a Grand Jury.
But when his informant is murdered, Jim is willing to give full testimony, resulting in the mob putting a hit on him.
His girlfriend is a mob boss's sister & nightclub performer Betty Van Cleve, played by singer Martha Tilton.
She spices up this B picture with a convincing performance & three songs, Stu Davis's "What a Fool I Was (To Ever Let You Go)," plus a couple numbers written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, "I'm Guilty" & "Lonely Little Camera Girl." The latter plays into her film character & goes in part:
"I work in a nightclub, take pictures galore/ Although it's a bright club, to me it's a bore/ when a man gives my hand a squeeze/ I smile & say, your picture please...."
Riley's primary informant was the doomed Bugs Kelly (Danny Morton), who is a not at all veiled Bugsy Seigel figure, but beyond that, don't look for an accurate portrayal of the crime world. Instead, expect to find it a rousing little film noir that simply does not deserve its relative obscurity
Martin Mooney who authored the book on which Crime, Inc. was more or less based founded his own production studio.
He produced among other things I Ring Doorbells (1946) supposedly based on the 1939 autobiography of journalist Russell Birdwell, though having very little to do with the book.
With a parallel career as crime reporter, Birdwell's life seems to have rung a bell for Mooney, so they trumped up a film to go with the book.
An ex-crime reporter fails as a playwrite in the art world & returns to his newspaper.
Convinced a young man is about to marry a skank, & being sufficiently perverse to stick his nose into the matter, he sets out to spy on her, & accidentally photographs her murderer in the act.
It's a crime-comedy-romance starring Anne Gwynne & Robert Shayne. It's too callous a tale to be very funny, & too much a romantic comedy to take the tough parts seriously, which may account for the film's deserved obscurity.
Martin Mooney's studio also produced the underappreciated but excellent film noir Blonde Ice (1948). He wrote, co-wrote, produced, or co-produced a great many crime films & prison films of the 1940s.
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