Railroaded! (1947) Anthony Mann
Clara Calhoun (Jane Randolph, above, 2nd from left) is having a rough day. She’s tired of operating a beauty shop in New York, lying to her aging customers as they leave, telling them that men won’t be able to keep their hands off them now. Good thing Clara’s got a little bookmaking operation going on in the back room.
It’s a good thing, that is, until two masked gunmen enter the shop. When a cop happens upon the robbery and gets killed in a shoot-out, the two gunmen escape in a stolen laundry truck. But one of gunmen has a bullet in him and is forced to stay with the truck while his partner (John Ireland) escapes. The injured robber decides to implicate the owner of the truck, a clean-nosed kid named Steve Ryan (Ed Kelly, below left).
But Steve’s not worried. It should be easy to prove he had nothing to do with the break-in or the death of a cop. Easy, right? Oh, Steve… Somebody’s got it in for you, dude…
Railroaded! is one of Anthony Mann’s first mature film noir movies, appearing right after Desperate (1947) and before the excellent T-Men (1947). Although Railroaded! may look like what it is, a low-budget film from poverty-row company Producers Releasing Corporation, the film boasts a fast-moving script by John C. Higgins, nice cinematography by Guy Roe (who also worked on Try and Get Me, Trapped, and Armored Car Robbery) and good performances from the entire cast, including Hugh Beaumont (who will, of course, always be remembered as Ward Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver) as a police detective. It’s certainly fun to watch Railroaded! as an early step in the development of a masterful director, but the film stands just fine on its own as a solid noir entry.