Pier 23 (1951)
If it wasn’t for a VCI Entertainment collection of forgotten Noirs I am quite sure I would never have seen this film let alone ever even heard of it. After watching all 57 minutes of it (yes that’s all) I realized it’s not all that good and probably padded the lower third of a triple feature way back in the day. Having said that there are a couple positives here and standing front and center is the fact that Hugh Beaumont does as a pretty good job here in the lead as a store owner on the docks who has a knack for dabbling with clients from the wrong side of the tracks.
Beaumont’s voice over narration works well with lines like “She was a tall blonde with lots of speed.” True to the genre he wears a trench coat but trades in the dangling cigarette for a pipe which can double as a prop gun in his coat pocket when trying to corner a suspect. The fact that some of the filming is on location helps as does a couple familiar faces including strongman Mike Mazurki and would be bombshell Joi Lansing. We even get Edward Brophy as Beaumont’s drunken partner and confidante.
The unusual thing is that the film is broken into 2 separate cases that have nothing to do with the other. So at the half way point case one is solved and on to the next dame waiting in his office holding a gun on him. Episodic to say the least. I can only assume this was meant for television one way or another. Although this is earlier than Darren McGavin’s Mike Hammer show that’s what I felt like I was watching when I realized the first case is really over and on to the next episode.
Hugh Beaumont dabbled in film for years and even visited The Mole People before achieving his greatest role as Ward Cleaver who was always befuddled by the Beaver and trying to stay calm at the toughest of times. Mike Mazurki appears here quite suitably as The Ape, a huge wrestler who sometimes squeezes a might to hard and curvy Joi Lansing went on to a career in low budget efforts and an occasional visit to The Beverly Hillbillies.