Kansas City Confidential

Overview

Kansas City Confidential, Phil Karlson's low (low) budget, B-grade film noir, opens on a Kansas City armored-car robbery perpetrated by cynical, corrupt ex-policeman Timothy Foster (Preston S. Foster). Foster devises an outrageous scheme: he will recruit three of the most vicious and unrelenting criminals he can find (screen heavies Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam and Neville Brand) to undertake a robbery, blackmailing them into the heist with incriminating evidence from other "jobs." As an eccentric and clever conceit,...
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Overview

Kansas City Confidential, Phil Karlson's low (low) budget, B-grade film noir, opens on a Kansas City armored-car robbery perpetrated by cynical, corrupt ex-policeman Timothy Foster (Preston S. Foster). Foster devises an outrageous scheme: he will recruit three of the most vicious and unrelenting criminals he can find (screen heavies Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam and Neville Brand) to undertake a robbery, blackmailing them into the heist with incriminating evidence from other "jobs." As an eccentric and clever conceit, Foster forces each of the perpetrators to wear masks, thus concealing their identities from one another and preventing the old pitfall of the men squealing and backstabbing. The heist comes off without a scratch, but a complication arises when the ignorant cops pick up an unrelated fellow, Joe Rolfe (John Payne) for his ownership of a van similar to the one used in the caper. In time, Rolfe is cleared, but he grows irate over the accusations and sets off to find Foster and co. and teach them a lesson. He finally happens upon one of the perpetrators in Mexico, beats him nearly to death, and assumes the victim's identity - and that's when things really get complicated. Though produced under the Hays Code censorship regulations, Kansas City Confidential constituted one of the most brutal and violent crime pictures made up through that time; as such, it retains historical significance. It also claims a strong cult following.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Kansas City Confidential's B-movie roots are abundantly clear, but that doesn't keep it from being an effective little excursion into the world of film noir. Indeed, in some strange way, its cheapness adds to its effectiveness; its protagonist, after all, is a cheap ex-con who has to get by on his wits and his fists, in the same way that director Phil Karlson had to use his limited resources. And both the protagonist and Karlson are fully committed to getting what they aim for, even when they aren't 100 percent sure what it is. The screenplay has a great heist gimmick, a clever premise that sets everything in motion; but too soon, it starts stretching credibility, and a lot of the twists and doubling back seems to be there because the writers didn't know what else to do rather than because they were what the story specifically needed. Karlson doesn't care, though; if part of the plot is a little contrived, he just employs one of his trademark super close-ups to invest it with supposed meaning. If a confrontation lacks a little sense, he frames those involved in such a way as to emphasize the power struggle and force some sense into the scene. Karlson's cast helps, with great bad guy turns from the likes of Preston S. Foster and Lee Van Cleef and a terribly appealing good girl job from the stunning Coleen Gray. John Payne, in the lead, is the question mark, as he tends toward the bland; but his work here is solid, and the very fact that he has no established screen persona keeps us guessing about what he's up to and whether he'll succeed. Kansas City Confidential's flaws keep it from being a classic, but it's a lot of fun.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/18/2012
  • UPC: 874757012490
  • Original Release: 1952
  • Source: American Pop Classic
  • Time: 1:39:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 73,911

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Payne Joe Rolfe
Coleen Gray Helen
Preston S. Foster Timothy Foster
Lee Van Cleef Tony
Neville Brand Kane
Jack Elam Harris
Howard Negley Andrews
Mario Siletti Timaso
Dona Drake Teresa
Helen Kleeb Mrs. Crane
Vivi Janiss Mrs. Rogers
Ted Ryan Morelli
George Wallace Olson
Don Orlando Diaz
Thomas P. Dillon
Ric Roman Brother
Carlos Rivero
Archie Twitchell Police
House Peters Jr. Police
George Dockstader Police
Don House Police
Brick Sullivan Police
Jack Shea Police
Tom Greenway Police
Kay Wiley Woman
Harry Hines News Vendor
Mike Lally Shooter
Charles Sherlock Stickman
Charles Sullivan Player
Sam Scar Player
Barry Brooks Player
Eddie Foster Player
Joe Ray Houseman
Paul Dubov Eddie
Sam Pierce Workman
William Haade Detective Barney
Charles Cane Detective Mullins
Ray Bennett Prisoner
Orlando Beltran Porter
Carleton Young Assistant District Atty. Martin
Phil Tead Collins
Lee Phelps Jailer
Tom Dillon Police
Paul Fierro Police
Al Hill Shooter
Frank Scannell Stickman
Technical Credits
Phil Karlson Director
Rowland Brown Screenwriter
George Bruce Screenwriter
George E. Diskant Cinematographer
Harry J. Essex Screenwriter
Harold R. Greene Original Story
Edward Ilou Art Director
Paul Sawtell Score Composer
Buddy Small Editor
Edward Small Producer
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