Stakeout On Dope Street - 1958 - 5/10
As soon as the cuffs snap shut, the bust goes south.
Gunfire echoes across the industrial sector, bleak and forsaken at 2:00 AM.
Afterward, two men, the decent cop and the low level courier, sprawl face down, their life blood pooling into the asphalt.
Yet what about the briefcase? The one carrying the stuff when the courier had been arrested?
Stuff, as in horse, “H”, smack, junk. Heroin. Cancer for the soul, straight from the needle.
The briefcase had vanished.
Law enforcement squeezes the block. From penny ante chiselers to honey tongued hookers. From narrow eyed pawn brokers to dim witted muscle outside bolted doors.
At the other end, the syndicate unrolls its tentacles. Enforcers sweep cheap clubs, brothels, reefer merchants, filthy gin joints, back rooms choked with cigarette smoke.
No one knows that three young men had found the briefcase. The men know it brings trouble, but they know it can swing neon dreams. Not that they have any dreams yet, not even plans. They talk big, though.
When they decide to peddle the goods themselves, they sign their own death warrant.
B-Noir, which, despite the Warners shield, resembles a Poverty Row knockoff.
Aside from Abby Dalton and Jonathan Haze, most of the cast are unknowns and act like a convention of fenceposts.
Much of the filming occurs in the city dump and a bowling alley.
Jazzy score helps. The first half has a propulsive energy, second half enters a moral quagmire.
One of the better talk sequences comes from a aging hophead.
Strapped to a hospital bed, going cold turkey. The narcotic monkey, clawing out his eyes, twisting his stomach into knots, crushing his balls, ripping his backbone.
Four agonizing days, until then he’s clean.
Cold turkey, three times.
And each time, like a broken lover, he finds himself crawling back to the needle.