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99 River Street

(1953 b 83')

En: 6 Ed: 4

An ex-boxer is driving a cab, and his frustrated wife has sinister plans that lead to murder.

         Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) is boxing the heavy-weight champion and is ahead, but then he starts losing. Television shows a replay, and Ernie is watching it at home. His wife Pauline (Peggie Castle) nags at Ernie to get a better job. Ernie drives a cab and drops her off. Ernie stops at a drugstore and has coffee with Stan Hogan (Frank Faylen), who suggests he could fix his relationship with Pauline if they had kids. Stan leaves. Linda James (Evelyn Keyes) shows Ernie a script with a part she wants.

         Pauline is working in a flowershop, and Victor Rawlins (Brad Dexter) comes in and tells her he has $50,000 for them. She kisses him, and Ernie sees them from his cab. Victor starts to get in the cab; but Pauline sees Ernie, who takes off. Victor and Pauline go to a pet store. In the back room Christopher (Jay Adler) gives the diamonds back to Victor saying he never does business with women. Christopher says Victor killed the Dutchman, and Pauline gets upset and says Victor promised.

         Ernie turns in his cab and tells Stan he is quitting and blames him for his advice because his wife is a tramp. Ernie calms down, and Stan persuades him not to quit. At the drugstore Linda is upset. Ernie comes in, and she tells him that she killed a man. She asks him to go to the theater with her. They go in the back, and he calms her down. On stage she tells him what happened. She learned she won’t get the role because she is unknown. She says that she could get the role for a price. She says the man grabbed her, and she hit him with a poker and killed him. Ernie says they have to get rid of the body. The lights come on, and Lloyd Morgan and others comment on the performance. Waldo Daggett (Ian Wolfe) says to pay Ernie $20. Ernie gets angry and slugs three men. He calls Linda a phony and stalks out.

         Ernie goes to the gym and asks Pop Durkee (Eddy Waller) to get him a fight. Pop says he could lose his eyesight. Pauline calls Stan and asks him to have Ernie pick her up at a bar. From an apartment she and Victor see Ernie arrive. Ernie leaves and goes home. Linda arrives and says the police are coming because the theater wants publicity. She says she quit the part and offers to pay his fine. Ernie packs and says he is running away from his marriage. They find Pauline’s body in the back seat of his cab. Linda goes with Ernie in the cab. He calls Stan, who says the police are looking for him for the assault. He drives to the apartment next to the bar, leaves Linda in the cab, and gets the apartment number from the manager. No one answers. He tells Linda the name is Rawlins and goes back to break in. He searches the apartment, and suddenly Mickey (Jack Lambert) holds a gun on him and asks where he was to meet Victor. Ernie knocks the gun away and beats him up. Ernie learns that Victor killed a Dutchman. Police arrive, and Linda goes in and warns Ernie.

         Victor calls on Christopher, says he got rid of Pauline, and demands the $50,000 for the diamonds. Christopher opens a safe and gives him $50,000. At the cab station Stan tells Ernie that the police found Pauline in his cab. Stan tries to help him locate Rawlins by cab calls. Ernie tries to get Linda to leave, but she refuses. A detective makes Stan call drivers about turning in Ernie. Stan tells Ernie to take a cab and cruise. Mickey goes to see Christopher, who learns that Victor is getting a passport. Christopher tells Mickey and Monk that they will kill Victor. Stan calls Ernie that Victor is going to 99 River Street. A policeman makes Ernie move the cab away from a fire hydrant. Mickey holds a gun on Ernie and takes him to a car. Monk comes in the bar, and Linda sees him sit with Victor, who pays him $500 for a passport. Monk leaves, and Linda dances with a man next to Victor. In the car Ernie tells Christopher that Victor killed Pauline and framed him. Linda moves in on Victor and sits on his lap. He pushes her away, and she mentions Pauline. They go outside, and he slaps her; but Mickey with a gun makes them take a walk. The car follows them. Ernie makes the car crash and jumps out in time. Ernie tells Linda to get the police and runs after Victor, who shoots him. Victor runs off, but wounded Ernie manages to fight Victor until the police come.

         At the gym Ernie tells Pop he has a filling station, and Linda gives their business cards to Stan. Ernie and Linda embrace.

         This film noir follows a tough fighter from a nagging wife into desperate situations and finally to a woman who stands by him. Theater people are portrayed as deceptive and detached from reality, but the criminals are ruthless and violent. Ernie finds he has some friends who are helpful and reliable. He realizes that he does not need to be a fighter to be successful.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

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