The Las Vegas Story (film)

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The Las Vegas Story
Poster - Las Vegas Story, The 01.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Produced by Robert Sparks
Howard Hughes
Samuel Bischoff
Screenplay by Paul Jarrico
Earl Felton
Harry Essex
Story by Jay Dratler
Starring Jane Russell
Victor Mature
Vincent Price
Hoagy Carmichael
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography Harry J. Wild
Edited by Frederic Knudtson
George C. Shrader
Distributed by RKO Pictures
Release dates
  • January 30, 1952 (1952-01-30) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.2 million (US rentals)[1]

The Las Vegas Story is a 1952 suspense film noir starring Jane Russell and Victor Mature, directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Robert Sparks and Howard Hughes with Samuel Bischoff as the executive producer.[2]

Plot[edit]

Happy (Hoagy Carmichael), as the piano player at the Last Chance casino in Las Vegas, wonders what split up Linda Rollins (Jane Russell) and Dave Andrews (Victor Mature). Dave went off to fight in the South Pacific, but when he returned, Linda was gone. Happy soon finds out.

Linda reluctantly returns to Las Vegas by train when her husband Lloyd (Vincent Price) insists on vacationing there. Fellow passenger Tom Hubler (Brad Dexter) hurriedly gets off as well when the Rollins do. Linda discovers that her husband is in some kind of financial trouble, possibly criminal as well, and suspects he is trying to raise money by gambling. The first night, Lloyd insists she wear her necklace, appraised at $150,000, when they go out. She encounters Dave, now a lieutenant with the Sheriff's Department, who is initially none too pleased to see her again.

The next day, 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 the appropriately named Last Chance casino, by putting up Linda's necklace, but inevitably loses it all gambling. He tries to get Clayton to advance him more credit, but is turned down. Early the next morning, Clayton is found stabbed to death, and the necklace is missing.

Dave arrests Lloyd. Lloyd tries to get his wife to provide him an alibi, but as she was with Dave at his home at the time, she cannot lie for him.

Dave, however, figures out the real killer's identity when Hubler slips up and reveals the location of the stabbing. After the murderer left, Clayton managed to try to reach the telephone before dying. Dave phones Linda to warn her, but Hubler finds out and kidnaps Linda. With roadblocks set up on all major highways and a description of his rented car, he steals another car, killing the owner when he objects. Dave takes a helicopter and spots the speeding vehicle. He and the pilot manage to force Hubler to leave the car at an abandoned base. Hubler wounds the pilot and forces Dave to throw out his gun by threatening to kill Linda, but after a chase and a fight, Dave is able to retrieve a gun and shoot Hubler dead.

Back in Las Vegas, Linda decides to break up with her husband and remain in Las Vegas. Lloyd is arrested for embezzlement and other charges.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The movie was originally called The Miami Story.[3] It was from a story by Jay Dratner and was supposed to star Robert Ryan. However then it was changed to a vehicle for Victor Mature and Jane Russell, with Sam Bischoff to produce.[4]

Filming was to have started in December 1950 but the start date was pushed back to March 1951, by which time the title had been changed to The Las Vegas Story.[5]

Filming took place at RKO and on location in Las Vegas (also, the Mojave Airport).[6] Filming finished by June.[7]

Jarrico Lawsuit[edit]

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. This opened the floodgates for producers to employ blacklisted writers during the McCarthy Era without having to credit them.[8][9]

Reception[edit]

Box-office[edit]

The film lost an estimated $600,000.[10][11][12]

Critical response[edit]

Bosley Crowther, the film critic for The New York Times, gave the film a mixed review, writing, "The Las Vegas Story at the Paramount is one of those jukebox gambling films that gives the impression of being made up as it goes along ... For the simple fact is that Miss Russell is slightly grotesque to look upon in the tacky costumes and pinched-in get-ups with which she is cheaply adorned, and for the rest she contributes to the drama nothing more than a petulant pout and a twangy whine. But, then, the scriptwriters, Earl Felton and Harry Essex, have not made demands in their loose-jointed, tabloid-tinted fiction for more than the lady gives. And the rest of the cast does not embarrass her by playing above her head. The best to be said on behalf of this hit-or-miss R. K. O. film is that, in throwing side glances at the sap-traps of Las Vegas, it points its own indeterminate moral: patrons proceed at their own risk; the odds are in favor of the house."[13]

In their film review, Time Out magazine discussed the background of the studio that produced the film, writing, "A minor RKO gem showing all the preferences of its then owner Howard Hughes (aeroplanes, brunettes, breasts and disenchanted heroes)...It all finishes with a perfunctory nod toward family values (by marrying off an irrelevant young couple), but the film wears its intentions on its sleeve with the final shot: Hoagy looks first at the seductive Russell, then winks at us as he sings, My Resistance Is Low".[14]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz liked the film and wrote, "Robert Stevenson (My Forbidden Past) walks out a winner in this pulpish crime drama that he directed with panache. It's mainly scripted by Paul Jarrico who received no screen credit because of his pro-communist sympathies that met with the disapproval of nutty right-wing RKO boss Howard Hughes, who decided to take on the powerful Screen Writers Guild. This prompted a civil suit by Jarrico, who later suffered from a blacklist by HUAC over his politics. Hughes lost $600,000 on this B-film gem, probably the best film he ever produced...The exciting climax has for the first time a car/helicopter chase sequence on film ... It ends with a playful Happy and a divorce-minded Linda working together again and singing a duette with lyrics such as "Keep your distance, my resistance is low," which might explain what this appealing oddball story was all about."[15]

RKO announced plans to reteam Mature and Russell in Split Second[16] but neither ended up appearing in that film.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  2. ^ The Las Vegas Story at the Internet Movie Database/
  3. ^ Jean Simmons Heralded for 'Young Bess;' Enemy Agent Film Activated Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 14 Dec 1950: B13.
  4. ^ FILM OF KANIN PLAY ATTACKED ON COAST: Catholic Paper in Los Angeles Describes 'Born Yesterday' as a Marxist Satire By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 01 Dec 1950: 39.
  5. ^ 'BRIGADOON' LISTED BY METRO FOR FALL: Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson Will Play Leads in Screen Version of Musical Hit Of Local Origin By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Mar 1951: 20.
  6. ^ Gregorry Crosby, 'Tales of Vegas Past: The story behind The Las Vegas Story', Las Vegas Mercury, Thursday, January 09, 2003 accessed 18 May 2012
  7. ^ Drama: Clown Role in Offing for Skelton; Kramer Buys Pastoral Classic Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 06 July 1951: B7.
  8. ^ John M. Miller. The Las Vegas Story, Turner Classic Movies accessed 18 May 2012
  9. ^ Hughes and Jarrico Feud Enters Court Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Nov 1952: 24.
  10. ^ The Las Vegas Story at New York Times Movie Guide] accessed 18 May 2012
  11. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p263
  12. ^ Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
  13. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, January 31, 1952. Last accessed: November 27, 2009.
  14. ^ Time Out Film Guide, film review. Last accessed: November 27, 2009.
  15. ^ Schwartz, Dennis.. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, June 23, 2006. Last accessed: November 27, 2009.
  16. ^ METRO PURCHASES 'SNIPS AND SNAILS': Louise Baker Will Adapt Her Novel to the Screen -- Tracy and Hepburn May Co-Star By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 June 1952: 12.

External links[edit]