Kansas City Confidential (1952)

Directed by Phil Karlson
Written by George Bruce & Harry Essex

I couldn’t help but immediately think about The Dark Knight early on in watching this film. You can’t really compare the two, but anyone who has seen both films might have an idea of what I am talking about. The main difference being that this film doesn’t feature a psychotic mastermind. Instead the mastermind of the Kansas City bank robbery is more of a business genius and everyone involved figures in to get a cut of the paycheck. It is a pretty good idea for a nice little noir of a film and features a handful of good performances and a strong central character. And of course there is a play on romance in the middle there somewhere.

It has all the elements and doesn’t really ever do anything too overly surprising or groundbreaking in my eyes (as inexperienced as they may be). But this film has a lot going for it, most of all just the simple fact that it delivers these elements with quite a bit of, I won’t say polish, but definitely smoothness to it. And for films like these that is what I am looking for more than almost anything else, and element of smoothness to make it a cool film. You have to appreciate a lead character like Joe (John Payne) for taking his fate into his own hands. For being your average hard working man who has to rise above the professionals to clear his innocent name.

I think ultimately I liked watching these actors at work at the end of the day. The more and more noir I begin to see, the story is always fairly standard, with the most spectacular films perhaps thinking more outside the box. So when it really comes down to differentiating between what is a good and what is a bad noir, I look at the cast, and how natural and entertaining they can be to me. This cast does that, and I really must admit that Lee Van Cleef was a super awesome surprise and, as always, was super awesome in the film. I had a good time with Kansas City. I would classify it as above average. It goes above and beyond the call of duty for a noir, but let’s not award it the Medal of Honor just yet either.

*** – Very Good

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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