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Author Topic: Why Must I Die? (1960) Forgotten Noir  (Read 253 times)
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« on: March 16, 2017, 05:55:14 PM »



C noir Directed by Roy Del Ruth (Red Light (1949)), Screenplay was written by Richard Bernstein, Herbert G. Luft ( The Naked Kiss (1964)) and George Waters. Cinematography was by Ernest Haller (Blues in the Night (1941), Mildred Pierce (1945), Deception (1946), The Unfaithful (1947), The Come On (1956), Plunder Road (1957), The 3rd Voice (1960), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)). Music was by Richard LaSalle.

The film stars Terry Moore (Mighty Joe Young (1949), Gambling House (1950), Shack Out on 101 (1955)), as Lois King, Debra Paget (Cry of the City (1948), House of Strangers (1949), Fourteen Hours (1951)), as Dottie Manson, Bert Freed (Boomerang! (1947), Black Hand (1950), 711 Ocean Drive (1950), No Way Out (1950), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Detective Story (1951), Twilight of Honor (1963)) as Adler, Juli Reding (Vice Raid (1960), Tormented (1960)) as Mitzi, Lionel Ames as Eddie Rainey, Phil Harvey (Touch of Evil (1958)) as Kenny Randall, Fred Sherman as 'Red' King, and Sid Melton (White Heat (1949), Hi-Jacked (1950)) as Morrie Waltzer.


Lori King (Moore)



Lori King is a torch singer at The Cockatoo nightclub. She has been so popular that she has been signed on for another month. Originally from the Midwest she keeps her past under wraps. Her father Red (Sherman) is a con serving time, but he's soon to be released. She's trying to make a new life for herself. Her boss, Kenny Randall, (Harvey) has the hots for Lori.


King and Randall (Harvey)

Enter Eddie Rainey (Ames), the ex partner of her father. He tells Lori that he's going to tell the prison authorities enough dirt on Red to extend his sentence to life, if she doesn't help Eddie and his female accomplice, safe cracker Dottie Manson (Paget), rob The Cockatoo's wall safe.


Dottie (Paget) and Eddie (Ames)


we want to rob The Cockatoo


Dottie (Paget)

Lori is also worried about what Randall will think about her shady past. All Lori has to do is give Eddie the key to the front door. Their plan is to send the nightwatchman a thermos of drugged coffee as a "gift" from Lori. Once he's knocked out Dottie will let herself into the club and blow the safe. Eddie will act as the lookout.


walkie talkie

When Randall goes, after hours, to the club on the night of the planned heist he interrupts Dottie emptying the safe. She guns him down in his office with the gun she got from Lori's apartment and scoots. Lori who was trying to contact Randall also heads for the club. She discovers Randall, and her gun. The watchman comes to and stumbles upon Lori bending over Randall with the gun in her hand.





The police put Lori on the hot seat, she tells them what happened, but since they can't find either Eddie or Dottie, they pin the murder on her. In the meantime Dottie double crosses Eddie and takes off with all the loot. Eddie is destitute and living in a dump with a floozie Mitzi (Reding) on Bunker Hill.

Lori is tried and convicted and sentenced to death row at a prison in Noirsville awaiting the electric chair.

Noirsville








Clay St, Bunker Hill and Angels Flight


Lori and Adler (Freed)




Mitzi (Reding)


eye candy










Eddie and Red (Sherman)


eye candy





Why Must I Die? is low rent, and chuckle inducing at times. During the robbery Dottie and Eddie communicate with walkie-talkies as big as fireplace logs. Terry Moore is functionally somewhat believable as Lori, and she signs a few forgettable numbers, but Debra Paget's "mad bitch" Dottie has a bigger pair than partner in crime Eddie. She is way way over the top. Dottie blows the nightclub safe in stilettos and capri pants, then tells Eddie over the walkie-talkie "so long sucker", and hysterically, with the money in her greedy little hands, sprints off away from the getaway car and dumbstruck Eddie.


"so long sucker"

Eddie, puts the pedal to the metal and tries to run her over, but crashes into a back alley wall. Later, Dottie, has burned through the take from The Cockatoo. Desperate she holds up a liquor store. During the robbery she panics and shoots a blind newsboy in the back, who innocently walked in to deliver the papers. When the clerk asks why , she tells him that "he can talk, he can yell copper, can't he."

The rest of the cast is adequate. Noir vet Freed is good as Adler and Juli Reding's Mitzi provides more eye candy than either of the leads.

This film is mildly entertaining, if not taken too seriously, but it's not a must watch. It does have nice surprise ending, I'll give it that much. 6/10

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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2017, 03:10:35 AM »

Sounds like I should check it out, thanks for the review!

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'I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner and I don't know who's hitting me.' - The Dark Corner (1946)
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