The bosses of the prostitution racket have one of their prostitutes go to New York City to entrap a police officer and get him thrown off the force. She does as she is told but then the gangsters make a mistake.
Edward L. Cahn
Mamie Van Doren,
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Routine to the point of dull but never actually bad...crime, love, and diamonds
Cage of Evil (1960)
This totally defines the B-movie, or the average B-movie. We sometimes think of great B-movies (like "Detour" or "Naked Kiss") and see how a small budget only encouraged breaking rules, or ignoring them, and finding a new kind of intensity that worked on its own terms. Well, in "Cage of Evil" the acting, writing, directing and filming are firmly compromised without finding that special territory of audaciousness, or raw violence, or innuendo, or simple believability that makes these things special.
That said, this isn't half bad. I mean, it's like seeing an episode of Law and Order or some show you already like, and it's interesting and often captivating, and there are little moments of surprise and sympathy, and you finish it thinking it was pretty decent.
The lead is a cop, a detective named Scott Harper, and it turns out he's corrupt, and at risk are a cache of rough diamonds. The interactions between the cop and his boss, and his colleagues, is believable if slightly stiff, but in particular, as Harper (played by Ron Foster) goes from one side to the other, we come to see his duplicity from the inside. He's really good.
There are so many well worn clichés here you might flinch, but they're good ones (convertibles at night, night club dames, suspicious mobsters, cops on the prowl) and it's edited fast enough to survive its glitches. Of course, for the diamond heist to succeed it helps to have a cop on the inside, casual and confident, and a dame to fall in love with him. Foster is a regular in films directed by Edward L. Cahn, who is a standard for B-movies (made for small time Robert E. Kent Productions under a variety of names). In a way this is the equivalent of a television series with less frequency--meaning they were made to formula, and fairly cheaply. By 1960 old Hollywood was thoroughly dead, and television thoroughly alive, and this was one of the ways it kept going. There's enough going on in movies like this to keep a second feature audience, and to play on television itself shortly after.
But I enjoyed it partly because it takes itself very seriously. There isn't that corny or airy edge to some television, even crime dramas, at the same time. This is a late comer to the crime/noir cycle of the previous 20 years. Never mind the canned overdub narration. Sit through some scenes that talk too much. You might find the rest of it pretty decent.
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