Ernest Hemingway worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star when the newspaper was one of the best in the country and KC was a hotbed of stories. And in 1952, when John Payne starred as an ex-con trying to go straight whose truck matches the description of one used in a bank job, it was news. Bad news. Suddenly he's in trouble again, but determined to track down the real culprits to clear his name. That takes him to Mexico, but at some point, has the hunter become the hunted?
The plot is full of twists and turns in what's become one of the most effective examples of film noir, also starring veteran "heavies" Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, and Jack Elam.
It was reportedly the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs," and on Feb. 15 "Kansas City Confidential" comes to Blu-ray for the first time, from Film Chest/HD Cinema Classics/Virgil Films.
Here's the release:
NEW YORK CITY — For Immediate Release — One of film noir's defining movies, "Kansas City Confidential," explodes on DVD--available in HD for the first time--Feb. 15 from Film Chest on the HD Cinema Classics label (distributed by Virgil Films & Entertainment).
Director Phil Karlson worked with an array of Hollywood's biggest talent--including Abbott & Costello, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, the Bowery Boys, Charlie Chan, Elke Sommer and Sharon Tate--and helmed the mega box-office hit "Walking Tall" (1973).
But it was his raw, unflinching filmmaking about disagreeable truths--punctuated by exaggerated and shadowy cinematography--that left his most indelible mark. Karlson helped define the stylistic, cynical and moody film noir genre with vulnerable protagonists, down-on-their-luck anti-heroes, hard-boiled characters, femme fatales, violent realism and blunt dialogue.
A gem from film noir's golden era, "Kansas City Confidential" (1952) is a taut and gritty melodrama, reportedly the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs."
Ex-con Joe Rolfe (John Payne, "Tennesee's Partner," "Miracle on 34th Street," "The Razor's Edge") is on the road to rehabilitation. Framed for a $1 million robbery, he gets off for lack of evidence . . . but with his face plastered in the headlines and still hurting from a brutal beating in police custody, he's already lost all that he's doggedly worked to achieve.
Embittered and with steely determination, he sets out to track down the real criminals and render his own justice. Clues trail over the border to a Mexican fishing resort . . . and straight into the path of an inconvenient beauty (Coleen Gray, "The Killing," "Red River," "Nightmare Alley").
The seductress' ties soon pit Rolfe--who has nothing left to lose--against a crooked ex- cop (Preston S. Foster, "My Friend Flicka," "Annie Oakley," "Doctor X") and some of the ugliest, most-menacing thugs in the cinematic underworld, portrayed by Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand and Jack Elam (all extremely well known to classic film fans as villains, henchmen, gangsters and tough guys).
Has the hunter now become the hunted?
Digitally restored in high definition from original 35 mm film assets, "Kansas City Confidential" is presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 4 x 3 and original sound, as well as a new 5.1 surround sound mix. Enclosed is a collectible postcard reproduction of the original movie poster and special features include Spanish subtitles; before-and-after film restoration demo; and trailer.
The Film Chest website has a 30-second "preview" of footage from the film, if you're interested.