double feature: Naked Alibi (1954) & The Naked Street (1955)

Naked Alibi (1954) & The Naked Street (1955)

I watched two crime/noir movies back to back. They both had the word Naked in the title, though little nudity, sorry. I think what happened was that Naked Street had Anne Bancroft in it, and thus  showed up after watching another movie she was in, and then Naked Alibi had the word Naked in it, thus just auto-played next, and I was already sitting down, so why not. Now is the time to hit me with ads, streaming services!

(I’m referring to everyone by the name of the actors, not by characters, sorry.)

Naked Alibi is a star studded (as far as I’m concerned) cops vs criminal thriller with a motif of non-stop death and heartbreak. It has a semi-happy ending (spoiler!) I guess. Gene Barry is a baker who is also a suspected crime lord of sorts. He gets roughed up by cops interrogating him, but has to be let go because there’s no proof. Soon after the same police investigating Gene are killed. Police chief and perpetual noir hero Sterling Hayden is photographed roughing Gene up, and is fired or something. He’s a little miffed and out of sorts. I know it’s the 50’s and detective technology maybe wasn’t top notch but all the police investigating Gene are getting bumped off? You’d think the rest of the force would be on that. Well Gene definitely feels the heat, and so he heads to Mexico, giving his wife some song and dance about…I can’t remember what line he fed her that he had to go check on some business for a few days over the border. Maybe in the back of her mind she knows what’s going on, and that his double life is something she can live with as long as Gene’s not cheating on her.

Guess what? Gene has a girlfriend over the border, Gloria Grahame, whom he violently sexually assaults as a way to greet her. That’s how I see it, maybe she’s into it. Maybe she thinks this is the best she can do in either Mexico or America. She’s a singer at  some dive in the city which Gene’s criminal empire seems to control. Sterling shows up to investigate on his own and is chased down and beaten by nearly everyone he meets, except for a little boy who happens to be related to Gloria, who takes Sterling in and kinda falls for him. Do you see where this is going?

Gene’s screaming id of crime and abuse can’t seem to put the breaks on Sterling’s advances, both in closing in on Gene and also on Gloria. Gloria is shot and it’s not completely obvious if she was killed as Sterling loads her into an ambulance after a gun battle that finally puts an end to Gene. Seriously, did Gene cross the border and his normal act guy switch went off? How does none of the trail of crime and death he leave behind him NOT leave any evidence connecting him to it? He’s pretty over the top even when he’s a normal baker. I remember the intense performances by Gene, Sterling, and Gloria. That’s all I have to remember – this might’ve been scrubbed from on youtube after I watched it (or maybe it’s under a different name) and the version I watched was a little muddy (not the best print). The Rifleman TV actor Chuck Connors (also a former baseball and basketball player) is in here as a police officer. So aside from the performances, pretty okay movie.

The Naked Street stars Anthony Quinn as a mob boss whose kid sister (Anne Bancroft) get knocked up by a reckless hood, Farley Granger. Speaking of a screaming id for crime, Farley has also just been caught murdering someone over a stolen bottle of wine. So Anthony pulls some strings, hires a lawyer, terrifies the witnesses, and Farley’s conviction for murder is overturned. Farley is also given a regular job working as a truck driver though Anthony Quinn’s connections. On the case to look into why every witness changed their minds over having seen Farley commit such a heinous crime is reporter Peter Graves, who had also gone to school with Anne and had a crush on her back in the day. Farley’s resentment for having to act like a normal working stiff to keep out of trouble while also being a respectful husband and father is too much for him. If Quinn is going to let Farley out of prison, why can’t he let Farley work his way through the ranks of his crime syndicate, with the additional perks (such as a mistress)? Farley sets up a robbery of the truck he is driving, and that’s pretty much the last straw for Quinn, who sets up another murder, this time to frame Farley.

Some hefty back and forth drama ensues, as Farley promises to sing about Quinn to Peter Graves, even though no one else believes him that he was set up. (Conveniently, Anne had a miscarriage with the baby, and had fallen into despair, being stuck married to a murderer with her brother pulling all their strings.) Farley confesses to the first murder, and that Quinn had shaken everyone down. This is enough for the police who are tired of looking the other way or having the wool pulled over their eyes by Quinn’s manipulations, but seemingly not enough for Quinn’s mother & sister, who still try to cover for him, even after a final fistfight between Graves & Quinn. Is there enough time to hint that Anne Bancroft and Peter Graves are going to get together as the credits roll? I forgot.

The version I watched was a much cleaner/nicer print than Naked Alibi, and watching Farley try to self-destruct under Quinn’s watchful eye and threats is the most fun plot development to watch as the movie unfolds before becoming a weighty prison drama as Farley pleads with Graves to believe him, that’s he’s at least innocent of one crime, at least this time, and makes the mobster drama worth it. (Maybe I just love watching someone so awful as Farley’s character ruin every chance he gets, waiting to see what finally does him in.)

So, some over the top mobster acting for both movies, with The Naked Street being a little more engaging and less weary to sit through. Check em out if you can!

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