THE LAS VEGAS STORY (Robert Stevenson, 1952)

One recalls the toughness; but the sweetness that was also a part of her screen persona surprises. Jane Russell’s whole package, including the sparkle in her eyes, is the principal attraction, along with Hoagy Carmichael’s songs, in The Las Vegas Story, “presented by” Howard Hughes. It is a thoroughly engrossing crime melodrama involving Russell’s Linda Rollins, a one-time saloon singer at The Last Chance, her shady spouse, Lloyd, a diamond necklace, police lieutenant Dave Andrews, her former flame, and the murder that Andrews is only too eager to pin on Lloyd Rollins. Some of Harry J. Wild’s black-and-white cinematography of Russell drips with exquisite noirishness, and even Victor Mature, as Andrews, isn’t terrible. His stolidness is sufficient. On the other hand, Vincent Price is unconvincing as a guy who not only is married to Jane Russell’s Linda but who also bosses her around. Carmichael always knows what to do at a piano.
     This film is no more than fluff, but it’s highly entertaining fluff directed by Robert Stevenson in between Jane Eyre (1944) and Mary Poppins (1964). The wittiest dialogue doubtless was penned by Paul Jarrico, whose blacklisting kept his name off the original official credits. Jarrico had written the luscious Ginger Rogers comedy that Garson Kanin directed, Tom, Dick and Harry (1941).
     The finale in the desert outside of Las Vegas is nifty stuff as Andrews literally takes down the killer.

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