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A third string "C" Film Noir that actually may be the best of the Carney based Film Noir.
As much as I like Nightmare Alley (1947), this carnival film never leaves the midway much like Todd Browning's Freaks (1932). It's a great capture of the gritty atmosphere of a traveling carnival of tent and plywood, lit by strings of bare light bulbs. Victor Lukens cinematographer, creates a gritty claustrophobic carny setting, with convoluted passageways between tents, the midway, plywood arcades, cramped backstage warrens, along with trailers, and other equipment.
Most of the cast are playing carnies, Charles Bolender shines as the Carney Boss Blake, a cigar chomping little person who runs the show. Bolender deploys great ways of evening the keel whenever he has to deal with other people often ending up higher and looking down on them. Veteran actor Frank Albertson (Mantrap, Nightfall, Physco, Shed No Tears, They Mane Me A Killer, It's A Wonderful Life) plays the local cop Hank on carnival duty. Harry Banister a early TV vet plays the local corrupt politician Reeves.
Veteran TV Western Actor Richard Coogan (Vice Raid) is Bill Martin, a falsely accused of murder reporter who takes refuge at the carnival. Rosemary Pettit (Walk East On Beacon) plays Janet his girl who gives off a Gene Tierney vibe. She is forced to hide out with a chorus of carnival strippers, the de-facto "Girl On The Run" mothered by veteran early TV actress Edith King (Calcutta). Pettit is great as the good girl who has to be a quick study learning how to jiggle along with the rest of the strippers.
Rounding out the rest of the cast John Krollers and other un-credited actors play carnival barkers, you can see a bit of Phil Silvers, or Bud Abbott in the parts, for all I know I wouldn't be surprised if they were real carnival barkers.
A shout out to Renee de Milo (her only credit) where ever she may be, she plays the headliner stripper Gigi. She does a complete dance and is so good at it that I suspect that she was an actual carnival stripper. She does her act without removing her bikini type costume but she's got the moves down that you can easily imagine what she'd display. Check out Carnival Strippers - Early Years (1971-1978) by Susan Meiselas for a reference work.
The film also has an early Steve McQueen as an extra.
The score is carnival music inter-spaced with jazz for the dance routines. This low budget Noir delivers, I go as high as a 6.5-7/10. If it did have A list actors for the two lovers, and say Bud Abbott or Phil Silvers as the barkers it could have been an 8/10.
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