Kansas City confidential (1952); Associated Players and Producers presents; an Edward Small production; George Bruce, Harry Essex, writers; story by Harold R. Green and Rowland Brown; directed by Phil Karlson. With John Payne, Lee Van Cleef, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster, Neville Brand, Jack Elam, Dona Drake, Mario Siletti. Cinematography by George E. Diskant; art director, Edward L. Ilou; editor, Buddy Small; music, Paul Sawtell.
Kansas City Confidential is not exactly border noir, in fact a lot of it isn’t really very noirish. But it’s a tasty little heist movie, and for me the best scenes, only a few minutes of footage alas, take place in that whipping boy of vice-ridden, danger-infested border towns, "the wickedest city in the world," Tijuana. Not the real Tijuana but a cleverly designed set of the type the studios did so well back in the good old days. In fact, this Tijuana - an irresistible haze of dimly lit back alleys, gambling parlors, neon lights and unsavory characters - is probably better than the real thing. Anyway, the most noirish sequence may well be John Payne’s roughing up a sweaty and nervous Jack Elam in the seediest of hotel rooms. It’s over far too soon, and the movie changes gears and moves to a resort setting, where, from a purely noir perspective, it’s far less interesting, but nonetheless a fun movie overall.