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Double Jeopardy

1955 | 4:3 | BLACK & WHITE | Quality: Excellent

Rod Cameron

Gale Robbins

Robert Armstrong


Small time crook and full-blown alcoholic Sam Baggott (Robert Armstrong) hasn't worked for years, but manages keep himself in whiskey and occasionally pay rent on the dump he and his unfaithful wife, Marge (Gale Robbins), share with the $500 bucks he gets every month from shaking down his former business associate, Emmett Devery (John Litel). Meanwhile, on the much better side of the tracks Devery is putting together the financing for a new housing development but, to the bafflement of his lawyer and future son-in-law Marc Hill (Rod Cameron), won't consider low-interest government loans. Marge, conspiring with her used-car-salesman lover Jack Kelly (Jeff Calder), goads Baggot into strong-arming Litel for a big payoff - but what he doesn't know is his adulterous wife and her lover plan to take the loot and run off to Mexico together! However, in the deserted canyon where blackmailer and victim had their rendezvous, Baggot's body is found inside a wrecked car and Devery is charged with his murder. Marc knows something stinks and sets out to find the truth in what the police think is an open-and-shut case.

Double Jeopardy is an almost totally forgotten film that seldom makes even the most inclusive lists of film noir, even though with all its flaws, it's a little better than many that do make the cut. It was helmed by veteran Republic Pictures director R. G. Springsteen who was better known for directing a string of Republic B-Western programmers, most notably the Rocky Lane series, and Springsteen does a good job in this gritty crime drama. Complete with blackmail, murder and duplicity, Double Jeopardy has the all the elements of later cycle noir. There's a fair amount of grimy atmosphere abetted by a seasoned cast of Hollywood B-movie veterans (Minerva Urecal as a meddlesome landlady and Dick Elliott as Calder's boss Happy Harry also appear). It's no Double Indemnity, but it certainly passes the time for fans of the genre.

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