Laura (she of the Miscellaneous Musings) has reminded me that Phil Karlson’s 99 River Street (1953), starring John Payne and Peggie Castle, is now available through TCM’s on-demand program. Around here, if you can’t find a Western to watch, you start digging for an old crime picture, and this one’s as good as they get. Over the last couple years, Karlson has become one of my favorite directors — and I’ve developed a real appreciation of Payne (thanks largely to his work with Allan Dwan).
You can order 99 River Street here. While you’re there, scroll down and look into Big House USA (1955). It’s a tough, gritty B crime film, directed by Howard W. Koch, with a great cast: Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, William Talman, Lon Chaney (Jr.) and Charles Bronson. In its nasty 83 minutes, a kid is chucked off a cliff; a guy is trapped inside a giant boiler — and promptly steamed like a lobster tail; and Bronson has his face and fingertips seared off with a blowtorch to conceal his identity.