A car crash has three victims in the opening scene of Shoot to Kill (1947). Gangster Dixie Logan (Robert Kent, credited as Douglas Blackley) & prominant prosecutor Larry Dale (Edmund MacDonald) who was about to become District Attorney, are both dead. The prosecutor's wife Marian (Luana Walters, credited as Susan Walters) lies in the hospital in critical condition, waiting for the chance to tell her story in flashbacks to her friend Mitch, a newspaper reporter (Russell Wade).
Dixie Logan despite being a crook did not commit the particular crime for which he was framed by the District Attorney's office. The current District Attorney (Charles Trowbridge) assisted by others including Larry is protecting one gangland leader by taking down all others. Dixie escapes prison, seeking revenge for the frame-up.
Marian, formerly Larry's secretary, well knows her new husband is corrupt, but believes she can change his behavior. On their wedding night she announced that she would not sleep with him,
& is virtually blackmailed him.
Having compiled evidence against the D.A.'s office, she convinces Larry to go on the straight & level & clean up the corruption before he takes over as District Attorney. He seemingly agrees, but only to control Marian, while he continues to be part of the death & corruption.
Of the central characters, even Marian is corrupt in that she supports certain criminal events, having fooled herself into believing it might might influence things for the better working on the inside. She's sadly disabused of her good opinion of herself before all is over.
Shoot to Kill is slight, but it has a bit of startling action -- like the fist-fight while the participants roll down staircases -- with even the story's heroine duplicitously something of an anti-hero.
[SPOILER ALERT!] Larry is a machievallian villain. Marian's own well-planned double-crosses are fairly extreme, like when Larry discovers his marriage had been phonied up & his wife is actually a gangster's moll doing all this to help Dixie Logan, who in no way deserves her faithfulness & decides to kill her the instant she does the right thing.
The film fails to sustain its cynical film noir portraits & finks out in the end. It afflicts itself with a tag-on "happy" ending in that Marian overcomes her critical condition in the hospital, just in time for her & Mitch to declare their undying love & live happily ever after. [END SPOILER ALERT]
It may be slight with a minor cast & third-rate director, but I enjoyed it anyway.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl