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Strange Alibi

Strange Alibi(1941)

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teaser Strange Alibi (1941)

When he wasn't helming the second unit on films by Alfred Hitchcock (Rebecca [1940]) or Roy Del Ruth (The Babe Ruth Story [1948]), D. Ross Lederman was making his own movies. Known for efficiency, economy, and a discernable authorial brand, Lederman labored for many years at Columbia, directing Tim McCoy Westerns, and Warner Brothers, where he was kept busy remaking films moldering in the studio vault. Lederman's Escape from Crime (1942) was a sly remake of Irving Bacon's Picture Snatcher (1933), minus James Cagney, while Strange Alibi (1941) repurposed the logline of William Keighley's Bullets or Ballots (1935) with Arthur Kennedy standing in for Edward G. Robinson as an honest cop who pretends to go bad in a bid to infiltrate a criminal gang. A protg of Cagney, Arthur Kennedy had made his film debut playing Cagney's kid brother in City for Conquest (1940), a career coup he chased by supporting Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra (1941) and Errol Flynn in They Died with Their Boots On (1941). Strange Alibi finds Kennedy enjoying an early starring role, heading a cast that benefits from the participation of Florence Bates, Cliff Clark, and Howard DaSilva, as a brutal prison guard. Actor Herbert Rawlinson, who plays King Carney, the mobster gunned down early on in Strange Alibi, also had a supporting role in Bullets or Ballots.

By Richard Harland Smith

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