Roadblock (1951) Harold Daniels
You never want to hear Charles McGraw saying this about you: “Let me have him for a minute…”
Joe Peters (Charles McGraw) is one dude you do not mess with. We see this in the clever opening scene in which Peters – an insurance investigator – tricks a thug into giving him some much-needed information, which of course leads to the thug’s own downfall. Peters is a slick character, but he soon finds himself on the receiving end of a different trick, this one perpetrated by a young woman named Diane Morley (Joan Dixon), who slips aboard an airplane posing as Peters’s wife, something he’s completely unaware of until the plane’s in the air.
Peters also becomes aware that he’s falling for her, but Diane’s expensive tastes demand much more than what an insurance investigator can bring home. He soon finds himself doing anything to keep Diane around, even if it involves committing a crime.
The first half of the film is better than the second, with McGraw and Dixon struggling with Peters’s insistence on doing the right thing vs. Diane’s love of the good life at any cost. They have several great moments filled with some nice hardboiled dialogue, scenes that are well worth the price of admission. Although things bog down a bit and venture into routine noir territory (all on a very low budget), it really doesn’t matter too much since we’ve got McGraw (in one of his rare leading roles), Dixon (who only made ten or so films, mostly westerns), and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca.
Next: David Goodis. Dan Duryea. Jayne Mansfield. That is all.
Photos: Film Noir of the Week, YouTube