Ah, the old word meaning . . . well, I'm not sure.



It was always used to indicate something scandalous, but it was used so frequently you suspected that nothing confidential was ever confidential. Is this the prequel to LA Confidential? With some tweaks, it could be. It's a slim, sometimes nasty, effective piece of noir. It begins in . . .



Whoa, didn't see that one coming. Looks like a sturdy Midwestern place. That's the train station, of course. It's a museum today.

It begins as a robbery drama, with Claude Rains as the mastermind:



Actually, no. He's the Big Man, but no one knows his identity. He interviews his potential underlings one at a time, and we meet the charming trio. Jack Elam, all jittery sweaty panic:



Neville Brand, who looks like a brutal hipster:



Or perhaps Al Franken as Matt Murdoch. He went into acting while in the miliary, but that didn't stop him from seeing action: he received "the Silver Star for gallantry in combat. His other awards and decorations are the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Ribbon, the European/African/Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars, one Overseas Service Bar, one Service Stripe, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge."

Rounding out the trio:



Lee Van Cliff, at his slimy best. One of those hateful guys who calls people "palsy" when he's slapping someone around, and speaks about the victim in the third person while describing him to an accomplice. S"mart boy doesn't want to be hit any more. Do you, palsy." That sort of dialogue. Man, I hate guys like that.

He's like this the entire movie:


The robbery goes well; the guy they frame gets pulled over right away. I grabbed this frame just for the building in the back; very modern.



They pick up this guy:



John Payne, doing a different role than the nice lawyer in "Miracle on 34th Street." He's seriously hard-boiled in this movie, which helps him sweat out a brutal interrogation from the cops:



Why I oughta!

Meanwhile, back at crook central:


See, the guys don't know each other. So they can't squeal. The Big Man has a plan to meet them in TJ and split the loot, and that's where they go - pursued by the guy they framed. He wants his cut for being knocked around. I'll say no more, except that it's not all sweaty two-fisty action. There's Dona Drake:




And Coleen Gray:



Look at all the faces in this movie. Can it possibly be anything but good? No. No, it can't.