Jan 3, 2009

Mystery Street

This is from 1950, and is a noir mystery featuring Ricardo Montalban and Sally Forrest, and directed by the great John Sturges. (Sturges directed Bad Day at Black Rock, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and other memorable movies.) It might be described as one of the first forensic science thrillers.

The plot centers around a Portuguese detective in Barnstable, Mass., an area near Boston, and a Harvard forensics scientist as they investigate the appearance of a skeleton on the beach. The skeleton proves to be that of 24 year old blonde B-girl.

In a modern show, like CSI, or Bones, you’d see a painstaking reconstruction of the face with bits of modeling clay. In this one the identity is confirmed through other methods.

Montalban proves that he can actually act in this one. Many well known, and even well-loved actors, started out in their early films and TV shows, and demonstrated that they had great talent. Some, like Montalban, got trapped in ridiculous roles (Fantasy Island), and fell into type-casting, or ruined their lives with drink (Richard Burton) and women (Richard Burton), but still managed to leave an extremely good body of work behind. Others, Robert Duvall for one, have managed to build good, steady careers.