6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
C. O. DeRiemer
- Published on Amazon.com
When the police reach the site of the car crash, a car they've been chasing through the night and exchanging gunfire with, they find Lawrence Dale, the man who will become District Attorney in the morning, his wife Marian, and the notorious gangster Dixie Logan. Dale and Logan are dead. Marian is rushed to a hospital seriously injured. What's going on?
All will become clear in 64 minutes if you watch this tidy, well-constructed, low-budget programmer from 1947. The acting isn't much and neither is the dialogue, but the story is well constructed, there are lots of intriguing flashbacks and the direction is taut, unhurried and doesn't waste a minute. For a quickie with a five-day shooting schedule, Shoot to Kill is a fine example of why some people, me included, love these Forties, bottom-of-the-bill movies.
The story is all about Lawrence Dale (Edmund MacDonald), a corrupt and ambitious assistant district attorney; Marian Langton (Luanna Walters, billed as Susan Walters), who shows up one morning looking for a job as Dale's secretary; and Mitch Mitchell (Russell Wade), a smart, crime-fighting reporter for The Evening Register. With the ailing DA about to step down, we quickly learn that his replacement, Dale, is in cahoots with some big-boy gangsters, and that the lot of them plan to run the town. But Dale makes a mistake. To put away Dixie Logan on a murder charge, a step that will enhance his reputation as a crime-fighter, Dale manufactures false evidence and bribes two witnesses. It's not long before Logan has busted out of jail with payback in mind. Then Dale starts getting romantic with his new secretary, a woman with a mind of her own. And to top it off, as Dale and his gangster partners plot murder, ace reporter Mitchell gets on their trail.
All this could be as stale as a week-old banana-nut muffin. Shoot to Kill, however, keeps things fresh by using flashbacks, even flashbacks within flashbacks, to make all the plotting and machinations intriguing. There's even a twist at the end that's not telegraphed and yet is believable.
Shoot to Kill is B-level movie-making in all its cheap glory. There's not an actor in sight who ever escaped the low-budget movie mill. Even some of their stories have a kind of B-movie quality. Russell Wade, for instance, was never much of an actor in all the movies he made, most of them in unbilled parts and then as a lead. Still, he had a friendly, likable personality. When he was 31, a year after this movie, Wade packed it in as an actor and became a highly successful real estate man in Palm Springs. Luanna Walters, on the other hand, after years of trying and not succeeding to break out of B-movie purgatory (she played the female interest in a lot of westerns), died of alcoholism when she was 51. Where's Nicole Kidman when we need her, to star in The Luanna Walters Story? Sadly, the movie, Wade and Walters have been long forgotten.
Shoot to Kill is in the public domain. The DVD transfer is just barely adequate. The movie is fun, but not worth the inflated prices some public domain specialists slap on their releases. Be especially wary of those who say their product has been "digitally remastered" or any such meaningless marketing phrases.