Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Wild Party (1956)

An Over the Top Jazz Noir!

With a title like this, I had no idea what I was going to get. Was I surprised! The credits pop up and the cast includes Anthony Quinn, Carol Ohmart, Arthur Franz, Jay Robinson, Nehemiah Persoff, Paul Stewart and Kathryn Grant.

The story is about a group of losers who have the ultimate bad night.

We start with Persoff, who is also the film's narrator. He is a hep-kat ivory tickler who needs some cash to get back his union card. Being broke for a living, “just ain’t cool for a jazzman”.

Quinn is a former pro-football player who has fallen on hard times. He owes money all over town and is down to rolling drunks for a few bucks.

Kathryn Grant is the last hanger-on from Quinn's glory days. She has been around the block so often that she says "I have 40,000 miles on me". She needs cash to pay her rent.

Jay Robinson is a knife happy, small time con-man, who needs cash to get out of town before the Police grab him.

Quinn gathers this group together and they go looking for a score. Robinson cruises an upscale jazz club looking for a mark or two. He overhears a couple talking about jazz and butts into the conversation. Robinson says he knows a great club, THE FAT MAN, where the “real cats swing”.

Carol Omart and Arthur Franz, play the couple. They agree to give it a whirl and grab a cab to have a look see at this club.

Waiting for them at the club, is Quinn and his bunch. Quinn gives Omart a couple of twirls around the dance floor, then, hustles her and Franz out to his car. But instead of dropping them at a taxi stand, Quinn and his crew drive the pair to an abandoned building.

A simple roll job has now turned into a kidnapping. Omart offers up her fur and jewels but Quinn wants more. Franz says he can lay his hands on 10 large from a nightclub owner he knows.

Quinn agrees and leaves Robinson and his switchblade to guard Omart. Franz takes Quinn and Persoff to a club where they meet Paul Stewart. Stewart can tell something is funny with this picture and refuses to pony up any cash. He figures Franz lost big gambling and that Quinn is the muscle trying to collect. Stewart pulls a .45 and suggests they leave.

Quinn, Franz and Persoff head back to the hideout, there, a less than happy Quinn decides he will have his way with Omart. Franz tries to defend Omart, but Quinn gives him a nasty beating.

While all this is going on, Persoff and Grant realize Quinn has gone over the edge. They decide to beat the feet and leave before murder is added to the kidnapping beef.

After they leave, Grant, who loves Quinn, talks Persoff into returning to the hideout. She wants to try and get Quinn to give it up and leave town with them.

Quinn is not amused and goes after Persoff with murder in his eyes. Grant finally sees Quinn for the rat he has become. She jumps in the car and drives it into Quinn, crushing him against the building.

Omart and Franz escape while Persoff watches Grant, sitting in the dirt, holding Quinn’s hand, as he dies.

Not a bad use of 90 mins in my humble opinion. Quinn is quite good here as the ex-jock who just can't deal with life as a nobody. Same thing with Grant, she is excellent as the world-weary tramp.

The story and screenplay was by John McPartland. He also had a hand in, No Time To Be Young, Street of Sinners, and Johnny Cool.

The director was Harry Horner. He helmed Beware, My Lovely, Vicki and A Life in the Balance. He also won two Oscars for art direction for The Heiress and The Hustler. He is also the father of composer James Horner.

The d of p was Sam Leavitt. His work included The Thief, Crime in the Streets, Time Limit, The Defiant Ones, The Crimson Kimono, Cape Fear, Johnny CoolAnatomy of a Murder, and Brainstorm.

For the jazz fan there are several sets by Buddy de Franco and his Quartet.

Written by gordonl56

1 comment:

  1. This movie was ok but I found the jive talking by the leads a little annoying after a while! Lol!


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