“Don’t give me that love stuff.”
In Railroaded, Clara’s Beauty Salon operates as a front for a gambling racket, and it’s part of a chain of gambling joints owned by Jackland Ainsworth (Roy Gordon). Vicious hood, Duke Martin (John Ireland) is one of Ainsworth’s henchmen, and as a disgruntled employee, Martin thinks he deserves a bigger piece of the action. Clara (Jane Randolph) and Martin arrange for a ‘robbery’ to take place, but things don’t go as planned when shots are exchanged between a passing policemen and one of the robbers. Martin drops off the wounded robber at a doctor’s house. The police investigate the case, and when the wounded robber identifies his accomplice as Steve Ryan (Ed Kelly), the detectives think they have an open and shut case.
Double-crossing and revenge are at the heart of this excellent noir film from director Anthony Mann, and one of the most interesting features of the film is the way the police investigate the case. Steve Ryan is a nice clean-cut boy who has no alibi for the night of the crime. He’s a WWII navy veteran, and fellow veteran Police Sgt Mickey Ferguson (Hugh Beaumont) can’t quite swallow the notion of Steve Ryan as a killer. While all the evidence points solidly to Steve, intuition tells Ferguson that Steve is an innocent man. Steve Ryan’s sister Rosie (Sheila Ryan) also believes her brother’s story that he’s innocent, and she starts investigating the case on her own. Ferguson’s attraction to Rosie, and her distrust of the police add to the complications.
Clara and Rosie represent the two types of women in the film–the gangster’s moll and the solid, reliable girl-next-door. Clara is the peroxide blonde who’s sold her soul to Martin and knows she’d better do whatever she’s told. Rosie has principles and is willing to stand up for them. It’s no coincidence that one scene has Rosie and Clara brawling with Rosie ultimately triumphing over the brassy blonde. The DVD print quality of this black and white film is excellent. Noir fans–put Railroaded on your list of films to watch.