"99 River Street." This satisfying little noir gem may be the definitive Phil Karlson movie. The ever-underestimated John Payne, a solid actor, stars as a washed-up boxer named Ernie Driscoll, who just lost a heavyweight championship match and drives a taxi for a living, much to the chagrin of his awful, unfaithful wife (Peggy Castle), who blames Eddie for him for her own failure. When his two-timing wife ends up dead, murdered by her paramour, Eddie is framed for her death and needs to prove his innocence.
He gets off-beat assistance from a terrific Evelyn Keyes who plays a spunky actress who tricked Eddie with a scam of her own and now uses her wiles and creatively fertile mind to help prove that Eddie is part of a set-up and the two have to elude traps on their road to the truth.
"99 River Street" is terse, snappy and gorgeously photographed by the great Franz Planer (Audrey Hepburn's "house cinematographer," so to speak).
Not available on home entertainment, "99 River Street" and another Karlson gem with Payne, "Kansas City Confidential," will be showcased at a rare double-bill screening at Hollywood's fabulous New Beverly Theatre, 7165 West Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, Ca. 90036 (one block west of La Brea_, on Wednesday and Thursday, 24 and 25 March. Phone: 323) 938-4038