Kino/1947/74m/FS 1.33/BW

     Railroaded is merely a warm-up for director Anthony Mann on his way to some dark and neat "B" films in the late forties. Meager production values are not the problem. A dicey script, with some ham-hock acting in the pot,  keeps Railroaded from serving up a first class movie meal. 

Stick 'em up girls. ŠKino

     John Ireland is tough guy Duke Martin, a cheap hood looking to skim off some of the bosses lute. Instead of making his usual collection at a small betting operation run by front beautician Clara Calhoun,  Martin dons a mask and with a partner holds up the place. Plans go awry when Calhoun's assistant screams in fear and a cop arrives. Shots are exchanged, the cop is killed and Martin's partner goes down. The camera lets you know something suspicious is going on here between Martin and Calhoun. 
     Before you can say Anthony Mann, young delivery man Steve Ryan is picked up for the robbery and murder of the cop. Detective Mickey Ferguson, a former neighbor of the accused is assigned to the case. It's tough for him to keep his mind on the clues with Steve's pretty sister Rosie batting her eyelashes and proclaiming Steve's innocence. The predictable script leaves little doubt that Ferguson will butt heads with Martin, the bad guys will fall and Rosie will get her brother back and a boyfriend in the bargain. 
      With Mann behind the camera, Ireland does all right polishing his tough guy act, but Sheila Ryan has a tough time of her own, playing the sister of the man accused of the cop-killing. Ryan has to make with like girl detective. It's too much to ask. Hugh Beaumont is a strange choice for detective Ferguson, seeming out of place doing cop work. Jane Randolph plays shady Clara Calhoun with lots of enthusiasm.
     The Mann noir look is evolving here. There are plenty of shadows and atmospheric lighting, but it lacks the subtlety of his later films. Railroaded is clearly a minor film, and without great expectations, you can have a good time sitting through it. 
     Don't expect much from this DVD transfer. The first big problem is many soft focus scenes. No, it's not totally out of control, but either the existing elements. The credit sequence looks better than the rest of the film. A tad more contrast and certainly sharper elements would have made Railroaded a more pleasurable experience. Shadow detail is all right, but blacks do not achieve optimum density. There's plenty of wear on the elements too, with scratches and dirt and errant splices, but you can still  enjoy the DVD. The sound is scratchy and there's low level hum, fortunately not very prominent. Dialogue is clear and the lurid music is in balance.

Feature Archive has articles ranging from A Western is a Western is a Western to Screen Voices, The HeistmastersAkira Kurosawa, film preservationist Robert Harris and Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont.

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