Big Tough Guys Collection [2 Discs] [Tin Case] [DVD]

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Overview

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3.5
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Synopsis

D.O.A.
"I want to report a murder...mine." So begins D.O.A. Told in flashback, the story tells of how vacationing CPA Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) becomes the recipient of a deadly poison known as iridium. Told by a doctor that he hasn't long to live, Bigelow desperately retraces his movements of the previous 24 hours, trying to locate his murderer. Through the aid of his secretary Paula Gibson (Pamela Britton) (who doesn't know of her employer's imminent demise), Bigelow traces a shipment of iridium to a gang of criminals who've used the poison in the commission of a crime. But for much of the film, it remains unclear why Bigelow himself was targeted. Though we know from the outset that Bigelow isn't long for this world, the film builds up an incredible amount of suspense towards the end, when Bigelow is taken "for a ride" by a psychopath (Neville Brand). with a penchant for pummeling his victims in the belly. DOA was remade in 1988 with Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Quicksand
Mickey Rooney, with his kid roles and musicals behind him, went for a major change of image in this harrowing film noir. He gives what many consider to be the best performance of his career as Danny Brady, a well-meaning grease monkey whose life is destroyed in less than a week. Danny finds himself short of cash when he's supposed to take out Vera (Jeanne Cagney), a waitress whom he's just met who works at a hash-house. He borrows 20 dollars from the cash register, planning on paying it back with 20 dollars that a buddy owes him the next day, but the friend doesn't turn up. To get the 20 dollars, he buys a 100-dollar watch on a payment plan and then hocks it for the 20 dollars, but a detective picks up on the purchase and threatens to have him jailed if he doesn't pay the full 100 dollars immediately; desperate to raise the money, he robs a drunken bar patron of his bill-fold. His money problems seemingly behind him, Danny takes Vera out with the extra cash, but gets into a fight with her former boss, Nick (Peter Lorre), who picks up a clue that Danny did the robbery. Nick pressures Danny to provide him with a new car (a hard-to-get commodity in 1950) from the garage where he works, in return for keeping quiet. Danny steals the car and turns it over to Nick, but he and Vera decide to get even by robbing Nick's safe that night -- now they've got 3,600 dollars, which they split. But Danny's boss, Mackey, tells him he knows who stole the car, and wants either the car back or the full value, or he'll turn Danny in to the police. Vera has already blown her share on a mink coat, and he goes back to Mackey with what he has, 1,800 dollars. Mackey takes it and proceeds to call the police. Danny attacks him and leaves him for dead. Danny goes on the run, convinced he's wanted for Mackey's murder. Danny runs into Helen (Barbara Bates), a nice girl that he was dating and then dumped, and they end up fleeing together, hijacking a car and holding an innocent man at gunpoint. Impending tragedy seems to loom up even larger when they cross paths with police officers on a manhunt. Realizing that Helen has been good to him, he ends up on the run alone, with a gun in hand, as the law closes in. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

They Made Me a Criminal
Borderline
This crime melodrama with humorous undertones involves the investigation of dope smugglers on the Mexican border. Americans Fred MacMurray and Claire Trevor enter the scene and find themselves embroiled in the illicit activities. Both are government agents, but each one thinks the other is a crook. The real bad guy is Raymond Burr, head of the smuggling ring. At one point, MacMurray and Trevor must pretend to be husband and wife, which weakens their mutual mistrust. Eventually, MacMurray and Trevor sort out the heroes from the villains, and the dope ring is scuttled...at least for the time being. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Chase
Originally slated for release through Monogram Pictures, The Chase was ultimately distributed by United Artists. Adapted by Philip Yordan from Cornell Woolrich's The Black Path of Fear (a perennial of the radio series Suspense), the film stars Robert Cummings as Chuck, shell-shocked ex-GI. Tormented by bizarre dreams, Chuck is drawn into the orbit of racketeer Roman (Steve Cochran). Hired as Roman's chauffeur, Chuck deals as best he can with his boss' faithless wife Lorna (Michele Morgan) and sinister henchman Gino (Peter Lorre). Persuaded by Lorna to help her escape the brutish Roman, Chuck agrees, only to end up accused of a murder he didn't commit. Thus begins the chase of the title, with Chuck eluding not only the authorities but also the stiletto-wielding Gino. Just when it seems that Chuck has cleared himself and all's right with the world, the story takes an unexpected turn, thrusting the hero back into a nightmarish maelstrom. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Beat the Devil
Humphrey Bogart stars as one of five disreputable adventurers who are trying to get uranium out of East Africa. Bogart's associates include pompous fraud Robert Morley, and Peter Lorre as the German-accented "O'Hara", whose wartime record is forever a source of speculation and suspicion. Becoming involved in Bogart's machinations are a prim British married couple (Edward Underdown and blonde-wigged Jennifer Jones). As a climax to their many misadventures and double-crosses, the uranium seekers end up facing extermination by an Arab firing squad. The satirical nature of Beat the Devil eluded many moviegoers in 1953, and the film was a failure. The fact that the picture attained cult status in lesser years failed to impress its star Humphrey Bogart, who could only remember that he lost a considerable chunk of his own money when he became involved in the project. Peter Viernick worked on the script on an uncredited basis. Beat the Devil eventually fell into public domain, leading to numerous inferior editions by second and third-tiered labels. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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