It’s the last scene in Tight Spot (1955) and District Attorney Edward G. Robinson has just asked witness Ginger Rogers –
“What is your occupation?”
”At present? Gang buster!”
It’s a great ending to a film which had all the ingredients to be a top-notch thriller, but, for me, doesn’t quite make it. Not enough Edward G. Robinson, not enough action ,and too long by about 20 minutes.
Ginger plays a jailbird called in to testify against mobster Lorne Greene by the D.A Edward G Robinson. ( She’s in prison for aiding a payroll robbery.)
She’s brought to a swanky hotel, accompanied by prison guard Katherine Anderson and cop Brian Keith. They hope to overcome her legitimate reluctance to testify, even if it means a reduced sentence for her. Several attempts are made on her life.
The film shows its theatrical origins (based on a play “Dead Pigeon”) -there are too many long dialogue scenes where Ginger just talks – and talks!
And yet, the action when it comes is very well done. Plus a good twist near the end.
(The original play, in 1953, only had three cast members – Joan Lorring, Lloyd Bridges, James Gregory. It ran for 21 performances.)
Ginger tries hard to come over as brassy with a tough exterior, but I was always conscious of her ‘acting’. I just don’t think the part suited her, though she worked hard to be convincing.
Just before the final scene, Ginger makes it clear she isn’t afraid of gangster, Lorne Greene. ( I’d have liked more scenes with Greene.)
There just not enough of Edward G. Robinson in the film. Most of the scenes take place in the hotel room with Ginger and Brian Keith .
Robinson was just getting his career back on track after the McCarthy era and had made 5 films in 1955 including Hell on Frisco Bay and Illegal.
Brian Keith’s career was mainly in television, but he showed here that he was perfect for film noir – laid back, professional and hard- boiled.
I was sorry to read that Brian committed suicide in 1997 after a long illness and the death (also suicide) a few months before of his daughter.
Katharine Anderson came over very well as the quiet prison guard who takes a bullet for Ginger. There is very little on IMDB about Katherine, only two films listed , the other being Queen Bee.
The budding romance between the prisoner and the policeman.
Publicity shot for the film, with Brian Keith holding the dress Ginger has admired in a shop window.
So, who would I see in the Ginger Rogers role? Well, I’d think of Ida Lupino, Jean Peters, Jan Sterling – or on a ‘B’ movie level, I can picture Myrna Dell or Mary Beth Hughes , all of whom would be more convincing to me – and wouldn’t need to put on an accent – I was conscious of Ginger trying to sound like a working class dame who never had much schooling.
Having just watched NOCTURNE again, I’d go for Myrna Dell who knows how to throw a verbal stinger with ease!