Chicago Confidential


1h 13m 1957

Brief Synopsis

A union president fights off organized crime only to find himself framed for murder.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
Sep 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 30 Aug 1957
Production Company
Peerless Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
San Pedro, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the book Chicago: Confidential by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer (New York, 1950).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

In Chicago, at the request of Artie Blane, president of the Workers National Brotherhood, Mickey Partos, the union's treasurer, arranges to meet with State's Attorney Jim Fremont to hand over evidence proving that racketeers are attempting to take over the union. On his way to meet Fremont, however, Partos is murdered, and Artie's gun is planted at the crime scene to frame him for his friend's death. Ken Harrison, the union's crooked vice-president who is working for the crime syndicate and expects to be installed as president after Artie is discredited, informs Artie of Partos' death and advises him to leave the country immediately. Later, Harrison and his boss, former Al Capone associate and disbarred lawyer Alan Dixon, are perplexed by the gun's disappearance from the murder scene. A drunk named Candymouth Duggan has found the gun and, after reading a newspaper report that the murder weapon is being sought, shows the gun to Milt, a bartender and mobster, who phones Harrison. After Candymouth is sobered up, Harrison persuades him to tell police captain Jake Parker that he saw Artie looking for something at the murder scene. Parker then informs Jim, who arrests Artie. Jim tells his wife Helen that he is considering running for governor and believes that if he can convict Artie, his election will be a certainty. At Artie's trial, his fiancée, Laura Barton, testifies that he was in her apartment at the time of the murder and neighbor Sylvia Clarkson substantiates Laura's testimony by stating that she saw and heard Artie there. However, when Jake discovers a tape recording of Artie's voice in Laura's apartment and the syndicate intimidates Clarkson into saying that she did not actually see Artie, the jury finds Artie guilty. Laura tries to convince Jim that Artie is innocent and persuades him to record Artie's voice and compare the two recordings at a sound laboratory. After a recording expert tells Jim that the tapes could not have been made by the same man, Jim reopens the case and attempts to find the man who impersonated Artie. Upon learning that Jim wants to re-interview Candymouth, Harrison has the derelict thrown from a bridge into the path of a passing train. After the police locate professional mimic Kerry Jordan, Jim and Laura go to the club where he is performing and attempt to question him after his act, but Jordan is killed by Harrison's henchmen before he can admit that he impersonated Artie's voice. Later, Jim and Laura learn that the syndicate is hiding Clarkson at Milt's sleazy bar, where a number of B-girls are about to leave by private plane for vice assignments in the Philippines. When Jim accuses Clarkson of perjury and tells her that it is likely that she will be killed by the racketeers, she agrees to make a full statement. After Jim puts Clarkson in a cab, with instructions to go to his house and wait for him, he and Laura are captured by Harrison's thugs, Smitty and Duncan, who beat up Jim and take Laura hostage after forcing her to reveal Clarkson's destination. When Jim recovers, he phones Jake and they drive to his house, where Helen tells them that Harrison's henchmen have already taken Clarkson and are headed for the airport with Laura. Although Jake orders all outbound flights grounded, Harrison orders the pilot, at gunpoint, to prepare for takeoff. However, when several squad cars surround the plane, Harrison, Smitty and Duncan run to a car and drive off. Jake and Jim pursue them and in a gunfight, shoot all three. Before he dies, Harrison makes a full confession, detailing syndicate involvement in unions and clearing Artie. Later, Artie is unanimously re-elected president of the union and marries Laura. Due to his efforts to ensure justice for Artie, Jim's political status is enhanced.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
Sep 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 30 Aug 1957
Production Company
Peerless Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
San Pedro, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the book Chicago: Confidential by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer (New York, 1950).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Chicago Confidential


A late entry in the waning film noir cycle, Chicago Confidential (1957) is, according to its trailer, "the bullet-by-bullet truth about the rape of a city at the hands of a killer mob...ripped out of tomorrow's headlines." The hyperbolic taglines came from a story about an ambitious district attorney who unwittingly uses false evidence to convict a union leader of murder. He discovers the frame-up by the real killers, power-hungry mobsters bent on taking over the union, so he sets out to prove the convicted man innocent and clean up the union, aided by the union man's girlfriend. The picture, shot on location in Chicago, benefits from strong performances from Brian Keith, Beverly Garland, and as the union leader, former crooner and "B" Western star Dick Foran.

The story was "suggested by" but not faithfully adapted from the best-selling book of the same name by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer. Lait was a renowned journalist in the first half of the twentieth century and one-time editor of the New York Daily Mirror, which during his tenure reached the second-highest circulation of any paper in the U.S. Mortimer was a reporter, feature writer and critic for various New York papers and worked for Lait at the Mirror as a columnist and "amusement editor." He had the distinction of being socked in the jaw by an incensed Frank Sinatra in Ciro's nightclub in the late 1940s for allegedly making an anti-Italian slur as the actor-singer passed him. Lait and Mortimer collaborated on a series of best-selling, rather lurid and pulpish "guides" to New York, Washington and Chicago. The New York book is sometimes listed as the inspiration for the film New York Confidential (1955), but the credits for that picture make no mention of Lait, Moritmer and their work. It's more likely that the producers simply borrowed the catchy title. Lait's plays, stories and novels did, however, provide the basis for several other minor movies and shorts between 1915 and 1939 such as Bad Company (1931) and Girl Without a Room (1933).

Screenwriter Bernard Gordon was originally credited on the film as Raymond T. Marcus, a pseudonym he used after being blacklisted. Gordon was subpoenaed to testify by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the anti-Communist witchhunts of the late 40s and early 50s but was never actually called to appear. An acquaintance named him before the committee as a party member and he was fired by his studio. Gordon found himself unable to get work again under his own name for several years until 55 Days at Peking (1963). In 1997, his name was restored to the credits of most of his films (more than any other blacklisted writer to be retroactively credited), but he bitterly noted in an interview that it had come "40 years too late to help my Hollywood career. I sure am angry at the way I was treated by all the major studios." He was one of the leaders of the protest against the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1999 to director Elia Kazan, who had cooperated with HUAC during the blacklist era.

Another writer whose name was originally left off the film, although it is not clear why, was Hugh King, who is also credited with producing and hosting the Discovery Channel reality series Biker Build-Off.

Director: Sidney Salkow
Producer: Robert E. Kent
Screenplay: Hugh King, Bernard Gordon, based on the book by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer
Cinematography: Kenneth Peach
Editing: Grant Whytock
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino
Original Music: Emil Newman
Cast: Brian Keith (District Attorney Jim Fremont), Beverly Garland (Laura Barton), Dick Foran (Artie Blaine), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Candymouth Duggan), Beverly Tyler (Sylvia Clarkson).
BW-75m.

by Rob Nixon
Chicago Confidential

Chicago Confidential

A late entry in the waning film noir cycle, Chicago Confidential (1957) is, according to its trailer, "the bullet-by-bullet truth about the rape of a city at the hands of a killer mob...ripped out of tomorrow's headlines." The hyperbolic taglines came from a story about an ambitious district attorney who unwittingly uses false evidence to convict a union leader of murder. He discovers the frame-up by the real killers, power-hungry mobsters bent on taking over the union, so he sets out to prove the convicted man innocent and clean up the union, aided by the union man's girlfriend. The picture, shot on location in Chicago, benefits from strong performances from Brian Keith, Beverly Garland, and as the union leader, former crooner and "B" Western star Dick Foran. The story was "suggested by" but not faithfully adapted from the best-selling book of the same name by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer. Lait was a renowned journalist in the first half of the twentieth century and one-time editor of the New York Daily Mirror, which during his tenure reached the second-highest circulation of any paper in the U.S. Mortimer was a reporter, feature writer and critic for various New York papers and worked for Lait at the Mirror as a columnist and "amusement editor." He had the distinction of being socked in the jaw by an incensed Frank Sinatra in Ciro's nightclub in the late 1940s for allegedly making an anti-Italian slur as the actor-singer passed him. Lait and Mortimer collaborated on a series of best-selling, rather lurid and pulpish "guides" to New York, Washington and Chicago. The New York book is sometimes listed as the inspiration for the film New York Confidential (1955), but the credits for that picture make no mention of Lait, Moritmer and their work. It's more likely that the producers simply borrowed the catchy title. Lait's plays, stories and novels did, however, provide the basis for several other minor movies and shorts between 1915 and 1939 such as Bad Company (1931) and Girl Without a Room (1933). Screenwriter Bernard Gordon was originally credited on the film as Raymond T. Marcus, a pseudonym he used after being blacklisted. Gordon was subpoenaed to testify by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the anti-Communist witchhunts of the late 40s and early 50s but was never actually called to appear. An acquaintance named him before the committee as a party member and he was fired by his studio. Gordon found himself unable to get work again under his own name for several years until 55 Days at Peking (1963). In 1997, his name was restored to the credits of most of his films (more than any other blacklisted writer to be retroactively credited), but he bitterly noted in an interview that it had come "40 years too late to help my Hollywood career. I sure am angry at the way I was treated by all the major studios." He was one of the leaders of the protest against the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1999 to director Elia Kazan, who had cooperated with HUAC during the blacklist era. Another writer whose name was originally left off the film, although it is not clear why, was Hugh King, who is also credited with producing and hosting the Discovery Channel reality series Biker Build-Off. Director: Sidney Salkow Producer: Robert E. Kent Screenplay: Hugh King, Bernard Gordon, based on the book by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer Cinematography: Kenneth Peach Editing: Grant Whytock Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino Original Music: Emil Newman Cast: Brian Keith (District Attorney Jim Fremont), Beverly Garland (Laura Barton), Dick Foran (Artie Blaine), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Candymouth Duggan), Beverly Tyler (Sylvia Clarkson). BW-75m. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Screenwriter Raymond T. Marcus was a pseudonym of blacklisted writer Bernard Gordon. Gordon's credit was officially restored by the WGA in 1997. An offscreen narrator is featured throughout the film. Vocal impersonations of Al Jolson, Edward G. Robinson, Jimmy Durante and Cary Grant are featured in the nightclub act performed by Buddy Lewis. According to a May 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, some scenes were shot on location in San Pedro, CA. Although a May 21, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Billy Nelson to the cast, his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Chicago Confidential marked the first film in which actor Anthony George (1921-2005) was billed under that name. Previously he had acted under the names Ott George and Tony George.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 1957

Released in United States Fall September 1957