Las Vegas Story, The (1952): Stevenson’s Film Noir, Starring Jane Russell and Victor Mature (Revisiting)

Robert Stevenson directed The Las Vegas Story, a film noir starring Jane Russell and Victor Mature.

Laced with some romantic touches, the film also belongs in the subgenre of the comedy of remarriage, as at its center is a former couple whose partners obviously are still in love with each other.

It was produced by Robert Sparks and Howard Hughes with Samuel Bischoff as executive producer.

Happy (Hoagy Carmichael), as the piano player at the Last Chance casino in Las Vegas, wonders wh and how Linda Rollins (Jane Russell) and Dave Andrews (Victor Mature) split up, assuming that “something quick and sudden must have happened to them”.

Linda reluctantly returns to Las Vegas when husband Lloyd (Vincent Price) insists on a vacation there.  A fellow passenger Tom Hubler (Brad Dexter) suspiciously disembarks their train.

Linda discovers that her husband is in financial and criminal trouble, and that he may be trying to raise money by gambling. Why else would he insist that on their first night out she wears her expensive necklace.

When Linda encounters  forer hubby Dave, now lieutenant at the Sheriff’s Department, they argue about their past relationship.

Hubler tries to become friendly with Linda at the hotel pool, but she brushes him off. He later informs Lloyd that he has been assigned by his insurance company to watch him and the necklace.

Lloyd obtains $10,000 credit with Clayton, owner of a vasino named Last Chance, by putting up Linda’s necklace, but loses it all gambling. He tries to get Clayton more credit but is turned down. The next morning, Clayton is found stabbed and the necklace missing.

Lloyd tries to get his wife to provide alibi, but she was with Dave at his home at the time. Dave figures out the real killer’s identity when Hubler slips up and reveals the location of the stabbing. After the murderer left, the dying Clayton managed to crawl to a telephone.

Hubler, who has been after the necklace for himself, kidnaps Linda. With roadblocks set up and description of his rented car, he steals another car by killing the owner. Dave engages a helicopter and forces Hubler to leave the car at an abandoned base. Hubler wounds the pilot and forces Dave to throw out his gun, but after a chase and a fight, Dave retrieves the gun and shoots Hubler dead.

Linda decides to break up with her husband and remain in Las Vegas, while Lloyd is re-arrested on embezzlement.

This is one of several films in which Jane Russell got star billing.

The scandal behind the scenes, the Jarrico Lawsuit, made the movie more (in)famous than it deserved to be for its dubious artistic merits.  Producer Howard Hughes ordered that the credit of writer Paul Jarrico be removed because of his communist affiliations. Jarrico took this to court but lost because it was held he had voided his morals clause. Hughes win encouraged other producers to employ blacklisted writers during the McCarthy Era without giving them due credit them.

Cast
Jane Russell as Linda Rollins
Victor Mature as Dave Andrews
Vincent Price as Lloyd Rollins
Hoagy Carmichael as Happy
Brad Dexter as Tom Hubler
Gordon Oliver as Mr. Drucker
Jay C. Flippen as Captain H. A. Harris, Dave’s boss
Will Wright as Mike Fogarty
Bill Welsh as Mr. Martin
Ray Montgomery as Desk Clerk
Colleen Miller as Mary
Robert J. Wilke as Clayton

Credits:

Directed by Robert Stevenson
Produced by Robert Sparks, Howard Hughes, Samuel Bischoff
Screenplay by Paul Jarrico, Earl Felton, Harry Essex, based on story by Jay Dratler
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild
Edited by Frederic Knudtson and George C. Shrader
Production company: RKO Pictures
Release date: January 30, 1952
Running time: 88 minutes
Box office: $1.2 million (U.S. rentals, or about $2.4 million)

Note:

TCM showed the film on April 13 as part of a tribute to Jane Russell.